Bear with me; long post, but I think it’s important.
I am a marketer with a degree in Psychology. I love both fields, maybe because they are so closely related to each other.
Back in the early 1990s, when I was asked to set up a marketing department from scratch, I had to learn virtually every facet of marketing from the ground-up, with very little assistance. I did go on to take courses and get certification through UCLA, but I had to get some fast results, so there was no other option than to learn, hands on, how to set up an in-house ad agency, get press releases published, and to deal with agencies and other marketers who were very protective of their ground.
The point here is that I started from where I was; a neophyte with a lot of drive and positive energy, but with no understanding of how to set up something as complex and interrelating as a central marketing department.
The better I got at marketing, the more psychology I was using. I needed it to understand our customers, and to deal with the myriad of vendors and third party resources. I even used it to get support from the sales department who knew much more than I gave them credit for.
I was using a dose of “Reality Therapy” to move things forward. Reality Therapy is a method of therapy that pushes an individual beyond all the mistakes and “baggage” from the past and focuses the patient on moving ahead today. What better modus operandi for today’s small businesses, which often have a lot of baggage and have a hard time tossing plans and campaigns that haven’t worked. In much the same way as reality therapy forces a fresh start, marketers sometimes just need to clear the table and begin anew.
What is Reality Marketing? It’s pretty basic. Start from where you are today. Don’t bemoan that you didn’t, couldn’t, should have, or would have. Here are a few simple steps you can take today to inject your marketing efforts with a little “reality”:
1) Get your key marketing and sales people together; announce your intention to revisit the programs and initiatives you have in place. (Okay, maybe you’ve tried this before, but do it again for real.)
2) Make it clear that you are where you are today; this is about the future, not the past. You will not tolerate phrases such as “we should have” “why didn’t you” “we never” “what a waste” “if only you had” “I told you that wouldn’t work” “I wanted to, but XXX didn’t let me”. You know the phrases that immobilize your team.
3) Make it crystal clear that you are evaluating programs, not people!
4) Nothing is sacred, look at all programs with fresh eyes; pay particular attention to monthly payments made for listings, memberships or any other programs that are not paying back.
5) Create a set of measurement metrics for each program going forward.
6) Finally, revisit the basics; your product, your value proposition, your customers and how you get in front of them in a new way.
7) Re-cast your existing marketing plan to reflect the changes.
8) Create a fresh action plan with responsibilities, timetables and cost for each.
You know the rest; make sure you meet regularly to evaluate your metrics, make adjustments and keep your plan fresh. As with any program or new way of working, keep it going, do not stop. You will get results.