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Trick-Shot Marketing: It’s Hard to ‘Kill Two Birds with One Stone’

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We love it when we take an action that turns out exactly as we hoped … and our single initiative goes on to bring additional good fortune. It’s such a happy accident that we’re often tempted to try and force such occurrences on a regular basis. Be warned, however. When it comes to marketing, these “trick-shots” can be very counterproductive.

Simple fact, it’s usually better to have a specific marketing effort entirely devoted to achieving a single, pre-identified goal.

But wait. If a person can learn do impressive things with, for instance, a slingshot (like ricochet a rock to ring a bell before hitting a bullseye), why can’t clever marketers do something comparable in their line of work?

Okay, ask yourself this: In the wild, how often do people with slingshots come across a bell positioned near a bullseye—set up exactly as they’ve practiced their shot? A more important question, is what purpose does such a trick shot serve, other than to prove it can be done? You could spend hours in practice in a carefully controlled environment, wasting a lot of rocks until you get it right. But if the goal is to ring the bell and hit the bullseye, a good marksman could probably do so within a few seconds using just two pebbles. Not spectacular by any means, but certainly more efficient. In business, more efficient is almost always better.

Think about the resources you devote to your marketing plans for a year. Let’s say a couple of goals are to improve lead generation and to refresh your website. Couldn’t you get more bang for your buck by building a website that’s designed to generate leads? Very improbable.

Consider the website refresh in our scenario: What did you originally want to accomplish? You probably wanted to update information about your products, improve search engine results, better support your brand … maybe improve customer service. How much would those plans need to change to turn the site into one that would primarily generate leads—even if such a thing was possible? Maybe you could create a website that’s so amazing that it inspires sales … but you would have to devote resources to generating website traffic before generating leads; it would probably cost a lot more; and it wouldn’t be the upgrade you originally wanted. Plus, chances are that you could get a lot more leads with a traditional, targeted campaign!

The “one-rock-per-target” rule holds for smaller projects as well. Imagine you want to send out a direct mail postcard to improve brand awareness. At the same time, you have a new service that you’d like to publicize. The temptation might be to save on printing and postage by letting one message piggy-back with the other. What’s the harm?

First, your headline and imagery can only support one of the two messages. (Don’t even think about splitting messages between headline and image. We will hunt you down and hurt you.) That means the other message gets second-banana billing—more easily dismissed as unimportant by your audience. Secondly, as for the headline subject, you lose valuable postcard space that could better drive home the point. All-in-all, the postcard would be in much more danger of falling flat.

We understand that marketing budgets can be tight … and at times the shotgun approach is your only option. (You just shoot and hope for the best.) But leave the trick shots for people with nothing better to do, and take aim at one worthwhile target at a time. If you need help, get in touch with us – we can steer you in the right direction.

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