How Mario makes Marketing Simple
(About a 3 minute read)
If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.Albert Einstein
Throughout my career, I’ve entered businesses to create or steer a marketing and communications team. On paper, it always sounds appealing but in reality, it’s exceedingly tough. Companies seem to know that marketing is important and they should be doing it but ‘the how’ is where they get stuck. I try to persuade my employers to start slowly and build up the marketing function once we know what’s working and how our budgets should be spent. Employers always agree that this is a good pragmatic approach. Once I have a strategic and tactical marketing plan in place, the problems start as no employer wants to sign off responsibility and budget for marketing. If I left the budget column empty it would be signed off in an instance but add the complexity of ROI and I soon realise that I’ve lost the room.
The most common conversation I have with stakeholders is –
- me “we should do XYZ immediately. This will cost A, but result in Ax10“
- Stakeholder “Nope, not interested“
- A few months later – stakeholder “Simon, I can see our competitors doing XYZ, should we be doing something similar?“
In my younger years I’d throw a wobbly and find evidence that I suggested this (with generous ROI) when it was the right time, not months later. In my more recent years, I tend to go with the “Absolutely! great idea” approach.
If you’ve ever been unlucky enough to sit through one of my marketing speeches, you’ll have seen the Mario image. I use it all the time to emphasise the direction marketing should be going in. Too often I hear from stakeholders that “We’ve got a great product and we shout about it all the time” – incorrect. We should be talking about how we can better the lives of the potential customer with our products and services.
Think about airlines – they sell seats on planes but you’d be hard-pressed to find a picture of a plane (or a seat) on their websites and marketing literature. Airlines sell destinations, beach cocktails and city nightlife. As with the Mario example, nobody cares about your product, they care about how awesomely it can change the customer’s life/lifestyle.
Another confusion I see on a daily basis is the difference between Marketing, PR, Advertising and Branding. All four can fall under a ‘Comms’ umbrella but who does what in each team is clouded. Again, if you’ve ever heard me speak, this also is a staple of my conversations.
Although the ‘lover’ image is simple, the confusion sometimes sits with misunderstanding budgets and where budgets fit in each pot. In my opinion, PR is the cheapest – you find a good subject matter that the public may care about, write about it and hopefully it will be picked up by the press/media. Marketing is the next cheapest as, aside from salaries, marketing costs can be minimal, especially in a digital media world. It’s unlikely that you can advertise for free so advertising always includes some immediate spend. Branding sits as the most expensive as it’s the culmination of all precious three comms tactics over a long period of time.
My final point is the understanding of when a marketing tactic has been completed. Many stakeholders think that once we’ve said it, it’s done. Once a social media post goes out we should expect a torrent of new customers. This is obviously incorrect. Once again the third mantra I spew about in speeches is one I borrowed from an ex-colleague of mine, Ryan Coetzee. Ryan was a strategist working with Nick Clegg during the coalition years (2010-2015) and his first sentence to me was a simple, yet effective one.
On messageRyan Coetzee
Much like the fire triangle, you take one element out of Ryan’s quote and the message fails. How many adverts do you see in a day and how many of those products do you actually buy. Of those you buy, why did you choose that particular product. It’s probably because you’ve seen it advertised (several times) understood the product and how it can better your life. You’ve probably researched the product on the company website and read reviews about the product. Either way, the marketing mix has done its job of converting you.
Without the Lover, Mario or Ryan (LMR) methodologies in place, you may have bought a different product or maybe not even bought anything at all.
These really are the basics of marketing 101 and if you can get to grips with this article, you’ll understand how to put together an intricate multi-channel marketing plan and why each tactic compliments others.
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