You’ve heard the expression, “practice makes perfect.” Well, in the marketing realm, “planning makes perfect.” There are so many new marketing trends, social media strategies, apps and new fangled tactics pushed our way every single day. A lot of businesses chose to “wing it.” They fly off into the sunset with a week’s worth of Instagram reels, crossing their fingers and hoping they’ll reach marketing heaven inhabited affectionately by 15 new customers. But, this “wing it” strategy just isn’t reliable.
Dimalanta exists as a guide to help businesses stay grounded in reality while achieving the success of their wildest dreams. In the next several Marketing Minutes, we’re going to unveil every core philosophy we have within our company, beginning with the importance of a marketing plan. We want to offer you a few tips on how to, first, assess where your marketing weaknesses lie, and then integrate that information within a consistent plan that is comprehensive and executable. In simple terms, we want to help you create mental models for how you approach marketing. These are strategies that can help you focus, work smarter not harder and, in the end, win. In order to help you win, we have to take a look at where you might have marketing difficulties…
The problem with “wing it”
There are two types of “wing it” that we witness in working with different companies. The first is something psychologists call cognitive tunneling.
“Cognitive tunneling can cause people to become overly focused on whatever is directly in front of their eyes or become preoccupied with immediate tasks. It’s what keeps someone glued to their smartphone as the kids wail or pedestrians swerve around them on the sidewalk. When we are in a cognitive tunnel, we lose our ability to direct our focus. We latch onto the easiest and most obvious stimulus, often at a great cost.” (Duhigg, Charles. Smarter, Faster, Better. New York, NY, Random House Publishing, 2016.)
What if you allowed this example to uncover some truths about your business for a marketing minute (pun intended)? Maybe the reason you don’t have a marketing director at your company is because…well…you’ve just never had one. In general terms, maybe the culture of your company tends to swirl around one main mode of marketing, the immediate tasks and urgent problems in front of everybody or the intricate nuances of the product you’re selling. But, what if your problems could be solved in a different, more present, more attentive and, ultimately, more lucrative way? What if you stepped out of the tunnel and decided that just because “this is the way things have always been done” doesn’t mean they have to stay that way. What if you exercised more effort and attention in marketing? What if you adopted a solid marketing plan? What if you set aside some dollars to potentially make a new hire?
Episode Two of “wing it” arrives in the form of what psychologists have labeled, reactive thinking.
“Reactive thinking is at the core of how we allocate our attention and, in many settings is a tremendous asset.” (Duhigg, Charles. Smarter, Faster, Better. New York, NY, Random House Publishing, 2016.) But, reactive thinking is essentially the process of outsourcing the choices and control that we could potentially wield in our lives that, in other settings, create motivation.
“The downside of reactive thinking is that habits and reactions can become so automatic they overpower judgment. Once our motivation is outsourced, we simply react.” (Duhigg, Charles. Smarter, Faster, Better. New York, NY, Random House Publishing, 2016.)
Here is where this concept shows up in a company with regards to marketing:
On a normal, average, gloomy Monday in the middle of November, the sales team of a company is informed they’ve slowly been losing customers to a competitor over the entire course of the year and that if they don’t act fast no bonuses will be given in December. Each member of the sales team looks frantically at the other unwilling to own any of the failures. They, then, spill their newly brewed, winter blend coffees between blames, scoffs and retorts. They also immediately begin throwing together desperate brochures, sending panicked emails and posting 5 infographics a day on Instagram.
This is called reactionary thinking, not marketing.
So, at this point you may be convinced that you need a marketing plan. Whether you hire a marketing director, have a marketing director or decide to outsource your marketing, here are a few reasons you must have a plan:
- In creating a plan, you are forced to look back and assess what is and isn’t working well. This is a tedious process, which takes a lot of focus (especially if you have “winged it”), but it adds depth, authenticity and value your marketing efforts and, in the end, saves you time and money.
- Once you create a plan based off of this data, you can accurately evaluate and assess that plan and make subtle changes for the rest of the year. Without a solid plan that is calendared, you may not know why one marketing idea works better than others.
- With a marketing plan, your company will begin to feel more centered and well-led. Without a marketing plan in place, a company may experience inner-departmental conflict. See the sales team failure example above.
- A marketing plan encourages you to dream. When you decide to assess all the factors and see the whole picture of your company–the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats–you begin to create dreams and visions about what could be possible. Through these visions, you begin to hone in on the deep values of your company. From those values, you begin to set attainable goals or, in other words, you begin telling yourself stories about what a healthy, thriving company looks like. When something does go wrong, you’ll know right away and help steer your team in the right direction.
Consider this example from the New York Times Best Seller, Smarter, Faster, Better, by Charles Duhigg:
One researcher named Beth Crandall, from Klein and Associates, a consulting firm made up of psychologists, sought to understand why some individuals focus and make good choices amid stress and some react poorly. She performed her research in an NICU critical care setting where stress and tension are often high. Nurses in these units have stressful jobs. It is not always clear which babies are sick and which are healthy. Nurses tend to have a difficult time deciding what voice to listen to first; that of the machines, a concerned parent or their own intuitions. In most cases, the nurses defer to the machines, but that is not always the best choice. In one situation, a nurse named Darlene was going about her usual work day and passed a baby in an incubator who was assigned to another nurse. All the machines showed this baby’s vitals were normal and the nurse attending to the baby said the child was eating and seemed unconcerned by what she saw. But, Darlene saw something else. She saw that the baby’s skin was mottled instead of uniformly pink, the child’s belly was distended and there was a blot of crimson on the bandage from a pinprick on the baby’s heel. Darlene insisted that the baby be seen by the attending physician, that the appropriate tests be conducted and that they start the child on intravenous antibiotics. When the labs came back, they revealed that the child was in the early stages of sepsis, a potentially fatal whole-body inflammation caused by a severe infection. Darlene saved the child’s life. When asked later, how she knew there was something off about that child, Darlene replied that she constantly carries with her a picture of a healthy, thriving baby in her head and that when something is off she recognizes instantly that it doesn’t match the picture. (Duhigg, Charles. Smarter, Faster, Better. New York, NY, Random House Publishing, 2016.)
The psychologists observed that, “people like Darlene who are particularly good at managing their attention tend to share certain characteristics. They participate in a kind of habitual forecasting(…) they can create pictures in their minds of what they expect to see. These people tell themselves stories about what’s going on as it occurs. They can visualize their days with more specificity than the rest of us. This is called “creating mental models” and it has become one of the most important topics in cognitive psychology. (Duhigg, Charles. Smarter, Faster, Better. New York, NY, Random House Publishing, 2016.)
This idea is exactly what we are proposing as the key to your marketing efforts: creating healthy mental models for your business through a marketing plan.
We want to help you begin to unlock the true potential of your creativity and “mental model crafting” capability. We believe this ability to see the whole picture of your company, dream the dream and set goals around that dream will beam you to more success in business.
One way you can start creating mental models is through a SWOT Analysis. In this analysis you will begin to see the whole picture…where your marketing currently exists and where you can go in the future.
First, you assess your company’s strengths and weaknesses by surveying data from your team culture and customer service. You then focus attention on your opportunities by looking at different tactics, platforms, campaigns, segments of the market and new product launches. Next, you assess your company’s threats which is anything within or outside that may hinder your marketing. The goal with a SWOT analysis is to provide insight and clarity so you can see the whole picture and craft an ideal model.
Good marketing involves a good dose of psychology. Within these Marketing Minutes, we promise to provide you with some of the latest research in business psychology. Remember, don’t “wing it” either through cognitive tunneling or reactive thinking. Choose to be like our good friend Darlene who allowed her mind to beam to new heights of imagination and create the mental structures necessary to perform excellently at her job. Create a marketing plan and you will create your company’s future success.