Marketing shortcuts often come with a hefty price, as I was reminded a couple nights ago. I had an allergic reaction to soy that hurtled me into health hell, throat nearly shut, the rest of me swollen like an overstuffed pillow. (I’m writing this still in that condition.) Why did I eat the soy? It was a shortcut to self-knowledge, I thought. I suspected my soy allergy had gotten much worse, but I wasn’t sure. Eating a tiny bit of tamari with some sushi would surely reveal the answer. Dhoh!
As with most shortcuts, the cost was far greater than the time and money saved. I could have gotten tested by the allergy doctor and known in a week. It would have cost me several hundred dollars and a few hours off work. Plain to see, it is now, that getting the testing would have been far smarter than potentially, you know, perishing.
There is a veritable laundry list of shortcuts are we asked to help clients take in the course of marketing a business. As with life, the cost of marketing shortcuts is far greater than the cost of just doing the work right.
Take photography for instance. Small business owners frequently try to take their own shots to save money, often with downright hideous results. Upon failing in their attempts to make poor shots look better, they commit the cardinal sin of shortcuts by asking, ‘Can you just photoshop it?’ (Conjures the old saying, ‘You can’t polish a turd.’) Better to take the shot right with a professional photographer, so it will stand out among peer products.
Marketing plan shortcuts are perhaps the biggest shortcuts of all, wherein business owners state that they don’t want a marketing plan, then wonder why in the course of the year their efforts aren’t panning out. Or we develop a marketing plan that they don’t bother to follow, then complain when the not-followed plan doesn’t work. (This is not exclusive to small businesses.)
The logo shortcut involves undermining every ounce of what a logo does by buying a clipart logo for fifteen bucks. A logo is personal and communicates ideas that make people think and form connections. A clipart logo is impersonal and generally communicates nothing.
I could go on and on, but the point is that the shortest route from startup to success is the longcut. It’s taking the road that will almost inevitably force you to do the work and reap the rewards of your efforts.
In a marketing context, this doesn’t mean you must have a Fortune 1,000 budget. It does mean that the road to success is not paved with clipart and marketing shortcuts. It means sticking to a budget and follow a good plan you believe in. It means measuring results, adjusting, and making another effort. It means doing things right, slowly, surely, keeping the end-goal in mind, and skipping the tantalizing shortcuts.
Paying the price of marketing shortcuts will take much longer and cost more. Take the longcut. Do the work.
Kelly Hobkirk - teaching marketers how to harness strategy, goals, reality, and purpose to connect and do better work.
Kelly Hobkirk has been helping companies succeed in creative ways for nearly 25 years. His work has been featured in Time Magazine, and books by Rockport and Rotovision. Get exclusive articles when you sign up for his monthly newsletter.