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It Works…Until It Doesn’t

It’s an easy concept to understand…especially when it comes to say household appliances. The toaster worked yesterday but doesn’t work today. The blender doesn’t blend anymore. The TV has gone out. When these things stop working the answer is easy. It’s fix or replace.

The concept gets a bit more difficult when it comes to marketing, and even tougher still with B2B engagement. Things aren’t black and white anymore. Few efforts completely stop working — instead the return diminishes, substantially over time.

Direct mail is less effective than it once was… yet is still filling your mailbox/inbox.

Radio advertising is not working like it did before… yet the dial stays full of stations.

TV advertising doesn’t work like it did… even in the face of a ‘streaming revolution’, commercial slots stay filled.

Trade advertising…well we never really bought into the ROI math on that one to begin with.

Because B2B marketing efforts don’t just stop working, many continue to invest year after year long after they should have walked away.

Habit is powerful. Doing something because that’s the way it has always been done is a tough shift to make. Many don’t want to rock the boat. Many can’t.

The problem with justifying the old hoping for improvements or growth is you lose sight of what’s up ahead. We rationalize our decisions and tell ourselves half truths to justify our choices and to make us feel ok with the decisions we’ve made. Then by the time you are ready to make the shift…. you’ve already hit the iceberg.

Sears saw what was going on.

Blockbuster for sure saw what was coming.

And so did American car companies, the taxi industry and countless others.

But they chose to stick with what was comfortable and grind it out. Betting on the fact that change would be slow in coming coupled with the fact that incentives for leadership favored the status quo.

I’ll tie this back to something I wrote about this fall while attending the SKIFT conference in NYC. In a nutshell, many CEO/CMO’s made reference to the 200 million outbound Chinese travelers in market today growing past 500 million in the next decade, and somewhat shaming the audience by saying that if you don’t already have a China strategy in place TODAY you should plan on virtually NO growth for the next decade. That’s the consensus and that same logic extends to other aspects of your strategy.

Today things move so fast that by the time its ‘comfortable’ the big wins have already passed you by. There is definite risk in being the first or early mover, but more opportunity-risk in being late in obvious migrations.

Now we are ready to move into 2018 and with it comes hope and promise. But moving forward will mean letting go. So, what are the things you will begin to walk away from in the new year?


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