When I first started marketing, I couldn't help but try to think of the next big idea. If I thought long and hard enough, I knew I could come up with that homerun campaign that would make us a household name overnight.
But since then, I've learned to redefine what great marketing means.
Of course, we all want the next Old Spice campaign. Who doesn't want to come up with the next hot guy on a horse to sends millions of housewives rushing out to buy your product or service? But as a marketing director for small companies, let's be real here. All the best campaigns throughout history have one thing in common: they were expensive. At least, they had budgets that looked a lot less like my salary and a lot more like what you might think a motion picture's budget would be! Anyway, chances are, my company couldn't support the kind of ramp up necessary even if I succeeded! My company is just too small for such quantum leaps.
Then how can I set my company apart using the same old strategies that I've always used? Doesn't that doom me to insanity? Here's the secret: Stop looking for the big winner. As arguably the world's most successful investor Warren Buffett said, don't focus on higher and higher hurdles to jump. Instead, look high and wide for small hurdles to step over.
For SMEs (small- to medium-sized enterprises), success lies in incremental growth. That means you need to strive to make your proven strategies better by constantly raising the bar. At my firm, I set real, measurable goals for each element of every campaign--improve open rates, fewer unsubscribers, capture more leads, improve conversions... And then I research how to improve that element of the campaign. And then I test it. And tweak it. And test it again until I see a (statistically significant) improvement. And then I move on to the next element.
This process of constant refinement may not lead to giant leaps in revenue growth or the kind of substantial profitability turnarounds like those that have the world singing your company's name while holding hands for the holidays, but for SMEs, it can offer not only a firm foundation in your proven strategies, but also constant, incremental successes that will eventually empower you to take the capitalize on the "next big thing" should you think of it. In other words, creating a solid growth platform ensures that you launch your next big campaign from a solid platform. It also means you won't have very far to fall if you miss the mark.
So before busting out that last bit of cash on hand for what you hope to be your big break, take a good hard look at what you're doing that's already working well for you--if nothing, then look at your competitors, surely he/she is doing something right--and then start doing that. Then focus on making it better and better.
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