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Why Bodacious, Internally Generated Self Promotion Beats Boring, Checklist Marketing

Feb 10, 2008
Sally and Jim are a nice couple. 30 years ago they started a business that they continue to run today. Moderately successful, they pay the bills and have employees do the daily routine work.

They have nice stores and all their employees smile and say 'good morning' and 'have a nice day.' They have a very expensive website that does what it's supposed to do and covers the obligatories such as Site Map, About Us and Contact Us, though they seldom if ever get any requests for information.

Their logo is artfully designed and the text they use on their website and other marketing collateral is scrubbed, spellchecked and sanitized. Like all of their marketing efforts, their website is well done but ineffective. All the marketing pieces are there but nothing happens. Sally and Jim did everything by the book and now are getting the unexpected book results.

Still, Jim vigorously defends their decision to do everything just right except the part about the desired results. From the beginning they budgeted 3.75% of their gross sales to marketing. They printed up media packets, marketing promos and slick handouts for their in store customers. But nobody noticed the handouts. Nobody cared.

And nobody notices their website except to say 'that's nice'. Their website takes no risks and makes no statement except that which is the usual and the customary. Jim's rationale for putting all these ho hum traditional pieces in place was 'if everyone else is doing it, there must be something to it.' Precisely the reason for not doing it but after 30 years Jim is still making the conversion from employee to entrepreneur.

After 30 years Jim and Sally would like to sell off their stores but they are asking a high price with less than average sales. Nobody is buying. Jim and Sally are getting a little bit worried now and that checklist comfort zone they had sat in for so many years doesn't look so comfortable anymore. The real icing on this upside down retirement cake is they are ready to exit their business but have no exit strategy. Uh-oh.

Jim and Sally's problem is and has been no one knows they are there. Their management and marketing is safe, traditional and ineffective. It does not stand out so it is not noticed. They talk about great customer service, high quality and cheap prices; in other words, they say exactly what their unimaginative competitors all say. So when new prospects are looking at Jim and Sally's industry for products and services, all the players appear to be the same because they all present the same image. It's coin flip time.

Although 'professional', their marketing is limp as it does not generate interest or 'buzz'. Strong on structure and function; weak on message and appeal.

Jim and Sally started out with the marketing checklist strategy that has plagued them for many years. Jim thought that as they went down the marketing list and could check off items on the list, the marketing would then become successful. The checklist was the plan or rather completing the checklist was the plan. Jim was never actually told this by anyone; Jim made this assumption all on his own.

Later Jim learned that simply having a website, brochure or sales presentation is not enough. "Take one of our brochures and be sure to check out our super well constructed website." Right. Will do.

Jim and Sally had an opportunity to get their company message out and to generate community and online interest. Instead, they laid a marketing egg. Too bad for their company. By trying to look 'professional' they made themselves appear to be dull, which they are; 'we'll be safe and do it like everybody else.'

Jim and Sally will continue to justify their lackluster marketing results by saying the big improvement is somewhere just around the corner. In the end they will most likely cash out with a whimper for their many years of self deception. No one will cheer. The numbers aren't there; the numbers were never there. Sally and Jim will go down with the ship.

Maybe later they will wonder what if they had been more 'bodacious' or more likely they won't wonder at all. It won't matter either way...they were too late. They could have done something more imaginative but they didn't dare. The truth is they didn't even try.
About the Author
Jack Deal creates bodacious marketing plans and is the owner of Deal Business Consulting. Related articles may be found at http://www.jddeal.com/blog/business and http://www.freeandinquiringmind.typepad.com
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