Years ago I had a boss, Dick Miller, who was the President of our snack food company (Goodmark
Foods). He was a marketing guy so we worked well together and
I got to learn quite a lot from him. He was always open to wild and crazy ideas that pushed our marketing toward uncomfortable edges.
Looking back on it, one thing stood out from the hundreds of
conversations we had about our marketing approach.
"If you aren’t making
me, as the President, a little uncomfortable, you probably aren’t taking enough
Marketing is often about experiments that help you learn and
recalculate your approach. You can’t just do the same old thing over and over
in a changing market. Testing the waters
and trying new things was critical to continuous growth because competitors get
smarter, competitive product offerings get better and things don’t stand still.
I approached Dick with a new ad campaign to reach our irreverent teenage male target with the phrase "Eat Me". It was an obvious double entendre and was a perfect call to action. I remember his response, I'm really not sure how our friends at Wal-Mart, Costco or Target will feel about this. But our job is to get product off the shelf. If I'm a little uncomfortable, that may be a good sign that we will get noticed.
The Slim Jim Guy and His Call To Action: EAT ME
If you are responsible for the marketing at your own small
business or in a mid-sized company, what evidence do you have that you are
pushing the edges hard enough?
Three questions to diagnose risk:
1. I like to ask myself, is the owner/President/senior leader going to be a little
uncomfortable with what I am recommending?
2. Will he/she challenge me to pull back a bit, try something
a little less aggressive or take a more predictable path forward?
3. Will there be rumblings from my management team colleagues
that this is too much, too fast and too soon?
If the answer isn't yes 2 out of 3 times, I'm not pushing hard enough. To get somewhere new, you can't repeat the same things over and over again.
The risk adverse brand manager or small business owner needs
to get themselves into the territory where their stomach rumbles, their palms get
a bit sweaty and they generally feel like they may get a bit sick.
I’m not urging you to go off strategy to be different; I am
urging you to test the outer limits of where that strategy can go. Like taking
a car for a test drive, you better push the limits to see if you can achieve
the speed necessary to move ahead of the pack.
Slim Jim Sales Spike
If you are wondering how that ad campaign worked, we did manage to annoy quite a few buyers with our point of sale material, but we also experienced double digit growth year over year. We got noticed and our target audience (young male teenage boys) did what we asked them to do - they ate lots of Slim Jims. (Credit to Good Steve/Bad Steve for their brilliant work)
No Risk, No Reward
Brands stake out new corners and spaces in a market place. They need a bit of crazy to fuel that action.
As Seth Godin likes to say...
are deliberately trying to create a future that feels safe, you will willfully
ignore the future that is likely.”
That queasy feeling is a healthy sign that you may start to
get noticed again. In a busy world, getting noticed matters.
Want to learn 21 strategies to help you with your marketing? Get a copy of my new book Unraveling The Mysteries of Marketing. You can purchase it at Amazon at this link:
“Jeff Slater is a
magical story-teller and has the unique gift of weaving in pearls of wisdom
among the engaging storyline. His insights on marketing are both completely up
to date (timely) and likely to stand the test of time (timeless).”
“Each of the 21
chapters focuses on a theme encapsulated by a single word; Focus, Targeting,
Perception, Fearlessness etc. Following the story and a discussion of its
relevance, every chapter concludes with a short summary of the key learning
points and at least 1 challenge/suggestion to the reader.”
“Jeff weaves his
life's stories into powerful lessons on how to get your brand noticed in a way
that sticks and resonates with customers and makes you laugh along the way. He
generously shares a lifetime of wisdom about a topic he has forgotten more
about than most of us collectively know.”
Wit and Wisdom, a Perfect Combination
“I am an experienced and educated marketer and entrepreneur and
I learned more reading Unraveling the Mysteries of Marketing, than I did
getting my MBA!”
Labels: Bad Steve, Dick Miller, Good Steve, GoodMark Foods, Marketing Moments, marketing risks, Seth Godin, Slim Jims