Five Reasons to View Marketing through a Telescope instead of a Microscope.
It seems that marketing budgets fall into two camps these days: I cut my budget because why throw good money after bad. Or, I am spending a lot less but I still getting no immediate results. It has been said that we create the worst of habits in the best of times and I think the “good ole’ days” of the early 2000’s have given us a microscope instead of a telescope. What I mean by this is marketing, like wise investing, should be done with the long-term in mind, not the short-term. Placing every marketing decision under a microscope when we know times are tough is like watching your 401k bounce around everyday. In the end, you create a lot of anxiety and are so short-term focused that we often begin to make emotional decisions because we need some instant gratification. And if the dollar did not move the needle in 30 days, then it was a dollar wasted.
I propose that we back up and view marketing through a telescope. This allows us to set goals and objectives and focus on where we are going, not just where we are. We all know that we are in tough times and living by what the media and markets tell us can be a rollercoaster of emotions. Here are five reasons to step back and view marketing as a long-term investment instead of a short-term expense.
1. A telescope can help set the destination.
John Nelson Wanamaker, considered the father of modern advertising, stated in the 19th century that “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” This has been an acceptable sentiment for the history of advertising and marketing and effectively communicates the mystery behind the success and failures of most marketing efforts.
But if you look deeper it says that over a century ago, marketing budgets were viewed as an investment, not an expense. My first question for new clients is where do you want to be? The second, where are you now? Third, what are you willing to invest to get from here to there? This is the crucial sequence in determining what your marketing program should consist of. We have to ask where we are now and where we want to be? What is the chasm that we have to cross to get there? How will we know when we are there? When we get there, what will it look like? Most of these are quantifiable answers usually driven by sales, profits or some other factors of success.
Until there is a budget in place, it is impossible to evaluate the merits of each marketing opportunity. If you have $5,000 you will obviously make different decisions than if you have $500,000.
2. A telescope gives a long-term view of what is on the horizon.
We are often asked “Do I need a new web site?”, “Should we be using Social Media?”,or “Why should we market at all right now?”
My answer to that is I don’t know. Without understanding where you want to be we can’t determine the path we have to take to get there. I think it is perfectly acceptable for someone to pull back the strings on their budget right now and play it safe. But with no investment you should be comfortable with no return. Is that a greater risk than trying to have some strategic, well thought out marketing efforts?
3. A telescope will focus on the long-term investment, not the short-term expense.
It is very hard for many corporate decision makers to place value on the thinking an “ad agency” can provide right now since our services are often viewed as intangible, and to many, even invisible. The focus gets placed on the doing and not the thinking. Think of it as the price versus the cost.
In the ad agency world the product has become the deliverable instead of the results. That is like focusing on the price, not the cost. Engaging fresh, creative minds during these times can be viewed as a price, or an outflow of cash that is probably tight these days. I recommend that you view that as a cost, which should yield an ROI of at least 100% over the long haul. So in essence, smart, strategic thinking and marketing planning should not cost you money but earn you sales. Ultimately minimizing the price you paid for having strategic marketing partners at your table.
4. A telescope eliminates the distance between where you are and where you want to be.
Now we have a budget, we have a plan and we are ready to implement. We have to keep our eye on where we want to be while simultaneously focusing on where we are today. The long term will be our guide to the short-term opportunities and challenges. We have plotted our destination but we still have daily decisions to make and obstacles in our path.
We have to stay the course and understand that great things will come in time. That our
destination will not change but our journey may often take a surprise turn. But changing course is still a long-term objective made with short-term decisions that will soon have us headed right back towards our goal. Remember the quickest way between Point A and Point B is a straight line. So when you get knocked off your path, get back on as soon as possible. This will minimize the time it takes you to reach your destination.
5. Trade your microscope in for a telescope.
So, if you are one of those wondering what you need to be doing right now to drive success, here is my recommendation: Trade your microscope in for a telescope. Hold it up and set your destination. What will good look like in the future? Do you want to take the risk to be the first back around the turn or take the risk of being last? Because either things will get back to normal, or we will establish a new normal soon and accept it. Either way, how will you know when you get there?