As marketers, we get asked all the time to perform miracles. That is a somewhat bold statement, but I will admit I often feel like Miracle Max from the movie “The Princess Bride.” You know how the scene goes: Inigo shows up asking Miracle Max to bring the hero Wesley back to life. The conversation tends to play out very similar to a marketing conversation with a new client.
Inigo: I need a miracle.
Max: I don’t do miracles.
Inigo: But this is for a great cause, a noble cause.
Max: I might kill him.
Inigo: It’s ok, he’s already dead.
Max: Okay, I’ll take a look.
Inigo: We’re in a terrible rush.
Max: Don’t rush me, sonny. You rush the miracle man, and you get rotten miracles.
If you haven’t seen the movie, enjoy this brief clip of the classic scene:
This scene in a marketing agency setting often plays out like this:
Client: I need marketing help, we have to increase sales by x in the next 3 days.
Marketer: Yikes, that’s a pretty ambitious goal. We can help, but we don’t do miracles.
Client: Please? It’s for a very good cause.
Marketer: Well, okay. We’ll take a look.
Client: Also, we’re in a terrible rush.
Marketers: You rush marketing and you get rotten marketing.
Organizations rightly believe that marketers have an ability to make great things happen, but I think we need to be very honest with expectation setting and admit that marketers are not magicians. In fact, good marketing comes from very calculated and strategic activities that take time and a great deal of effort.
Preventing the leaky bucket
The legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden once said:
No truer words have ever been spoken when it comes to marketing. To have a truly effective marketing program, you need an addressable opportunity: a market, a product, or a cause that people need or want. But even more important than that, you need to be prepared for that opportunity.
You will occasionally hear marketers mention what we call the “leaky bucket” phenomenon. The leaky bucket happens when folks have not put the time and effort into the preparation needed to succeed. You can pour tons of water (leads, web traffic, etc..) into the bucket, but if there is a hole in the bucket, it will just flow right out. This concept is not new. But, I think that’s what I like about it. It may not be new, but it is solid and clearly segments the process and components needed to be successful with marketing.
Building from the ground up
To be prepared, you need a solid foundation. That foundation is something we often refer to as “builders.” In any marketing campaign, you have both builders and drivers. Builders are the foundational pieces that allow you to have a successful marketing campaign. Some examples of these builders might include a robust website that is well optimized to capture leads, or maybe great foundational content that is “sticky,” meaning it keeps people engaged in your brand or on your website. Drivers, in contrast, are the activities that bring leads and deals in the door. A great example of a driver would be something like PPC (pay-per-click) marketing.
So, what does all this mean? Really it’s a challenge. I’d like to challenge you to focus on the foundational pieces “builders” that will really elevate your marketing efforts “drivers.” Because when your brand’s preparation meets a great opportunity, you will have success. Heck, you might even get a miracle. No promises though. You know what happens when you rush miracles….