“Perhaps is would be a salutary thing if we thought of ourselves as ad-venturers – and acted like it more often in our contacts with others.”
~ Victor O. Schwab
Boredom vs. Addiction to Tradition
Recently I was talking to a long-term client of mine about their current campaigns and plans for the next few months. Business is going well, they’re achieving their goals, but he’s starting to see signs of an economic slow-down and wants to stay ahead of the game.
One of his campaigns has been running virtually unchanged for nearly 5 years, still pulling a steady number of new customers each month and he’s getting rather tired of it. His in-house marketing team want to pull it and try something fresh they’re seeing their competitors doing and he wanted my opinion… which he received!
I’ve written an article about this, “Remember it’s a Parade!” which you can find at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/you-part-parade-debra-hilton. In summary, you may be bored with it but your prospects and customers aren’t, so pulling a high-performing income stream just because you are tired of it makes no sense at all. What he should be doing is simultaneously testing new ads and funnels and discovering what really works for him.
The Danger of Copying Others: True of Both Tactics and Copy
I’ve lost count of the number of times a client has said, “My competitor is doing X (tactic), could we copy that?” And “I’m seeing this ad for my competitor everywhere, can we create something similar?”
My response is usually: “How well is it working? Do you know their results?” Normally, the answer is along the lines of, “I don’t know about the results, but I really like the concept!”
There are two reasons why this is not a good way to determine your next copy or tactic:
- In my experience a lot of these examples actually don’t deliver great results because what appeals to you (the practitioner) doesn’t necessarily appeal to your prospect.
- Even if it is working, you need to ask “why?” Unless you and your competitor are identical twins with the same market, message, and deliverable (a very dangerous place to be!) then an identical message will only make the two of you less easy to tell apart. This is not good unless you are trying to piggy-back on their credentials (which may leave you open to legal complaints).
I was having discussions with a real estate agent a few years ago who said, “I want to position myself like Competitor-X so can you study his strategy and message and design mine along the same lines. Just make it different enough that Google doesn’t penalise me and I don’t lay myself open to plagiarism.”
In the end, we decided to position and structure his agency on a different model… one that suited both his goals and the clients he wanted to work with and embarked on an ad-venturous message and strategy that delivered far begone his wildest dreams.
Combating Marketing Boredom
Going back to my client at the start, we agreed that it would be silly to discard the working campaign just because we were bored and equally foolish not to start testing new approaches. So, he gave his in-house marketing team a challenge which any business would do well to copy:
- Study your competitors and see exactly what they are doing in comparison with what you are doing. Gather as much data as possible on their results (there are lots of great tools for doing this, but it’s beyond the scope of this article). Map out the 5 best messages and strategies you discover.
- Find at least 5 companies (in different industries) with whom your target market are likely to do business and map out their most successful messages and strategies. Choose your top 5 and dig deeply into their funnels.
- Using this information map out 3 possible campaigns that combine your favourite elements then share them with your team.
- Design your own 1-2 unique campaigns based on your research.
The power of this exercise lies in the depth to which you dig and the creative mapping of different possibilities which are neither copy-cat nor repetitious. Once you have your new approach, execute, test, and measure. So far, we have two innovative new campaigns performing adequately, but we did that without messing with ‘old faithful’.
You’ll often discover that it’s not an ‘either-or’ scenario… you can keep your old stuff running at the same time as you are testing new options.