Marketing Leverage Times – Spring 2004

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Welcome to the inaugural edition of the Marketing Leverage Times. Our goal is to provide you with useful information and thoughtful commentary on marketing and business issues to help you improve your organization’s leverage to market. We hope you will enjoy this regular collection of tips, tidbits and tools. We welcome your input and feedback. Tell us what you like and don’t like and what you’d like to see featured in future editions.


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A recent late season ski trip to the Rockies (where the temperature was wonderfully warm and the snow conditions just barely passable) reminded me of an extremely valuable bit of advice I once received from a ski instructor, of all people.

As a good intermediate skier, I’m able to handle most ski trails, but never been really good at mogul runs, or “bumps.” Several years ago, I broke down and signed up for a private ski lesson focused entirely on bump runs.

The instructor watched me ski a bit, then asked me what I was thinking as I fought my way down the hill. I told him I looked for the next big bump, determined how to avoid it, then looked for the next bump so I could avoid that one too. He smiled and said, “Ahh. There’s your problem.”

“Instead of looking at the obstacles in your way and figuring out how to avoid them, look instead for the path between the bumps. Look where you want to go, rather than avoiding where you don’t want to go.”

Think about it. How many times do we define our actions by where we don’t want to go or what we don’t want to be, rather than defining the path we want to take, or the place we want to go? How many companies define their markets by comparing themselves to the competition (the obstacles in the path)? “Company A’s products are more expensive than ours” or “We have better technology than Company B”. Wouldn’t it make more sense to focus your marketing and your message on the path you’d like to take rather than the bumps in the path? Or, better yet, define your message based on the path your customers would like to take.

The ski instructor had one other sage piece of advice for me. He said, “Every ski run has a natural speed or tempo to it. If you go too slowly, you’ll never get up enough momentum to achieve a natural rhythm. If you go too fast, you’ll have trouble negotiating the curves and you’re likely to crash and wipe out. Find the natural speed of the run and work with it.”

Consider your marketing efforts. Are you focusing enough resources on your targets to build enough momentum to get where you need to go? Or are you overreaching and rushing down the hill-committing to unnecessary and perhaps distracting activities and deliverables that may not be valuable or even relevant?

(By the way, I am still not an expert skier, but since I now look for the best path down the hill, I don’t pay much attention to the moguls anymore.)

The Lesson

Look where you want to go, rather than avoiding where you don’t want to go.

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It’s a funny thing about marketing-everyone seems to know how to do it. Trouble is not everyone can do it well. Sometimes what seems like it should be simple and straightforward may not be the best way to approach a marketing problem and grow your business. That’s why we’re exposing top marketing myths to give you the ammunition you need to spot these and avoid them in your own situation.

Here’s Myth #2: If We Build it, They Will Come.

We’re building a terrific product chock full of technological innovations. It’s loaded with great features and functionality. Why isn’t the world beating a path to our door to buy it?

Very often this thinking occurs to a company with an exciting new method or technology that it wishes to productize. Yes, there are markets for brand new products and even for entirely new product categories. But it requires more than just a hot new product to gain market success. Consider the audience for the product: what they need, what they’re using today, what your product can do for them that solves their problems in a more effective way than whatever method they’re using now. Then consider how to change their behavior: How simple is it for your audience to try your offering? What will entice them to try it? What will prevent them from testing it? And how easy will it be for your competitors to offer a similar solution?

The bottom line is sometimes the technology we’re able to build isn’t what the customer wants to buy. Or what the sales channel wants (or is able) to sell. Instead of building a product that is left searching for a market, take the time to understand your target customer and what they will be willing to buy. It’s much more likely to be a winning scenario.

For more popular Marketing Myths, see our website.

Are Marketing Myths Hurting Your Business?

We expose another marketing myth:
“It worked before. It’ll work again this time.”

We know our market – we’ve been here for years. We have a strategy that worked for us in the past. Why rock the boat now? The world is changing….


It happens all too often. You decide to engage a consultant on an important project. You interview prospects, choose a qualified candidate who seems a good fit, and negotiate an agreeable cost and timeframe. Next, there’s a flurry of activity and, before you know it, the consultant is presenting you with an invoice. You know they’ve done a lot of work, but what they’ve given you doesn’t match your expectations. What went wrong? Read our article.

WIC Best Practices Direct offers strategic advice, best practices, and tips from the Women In Consulting network of experts across a full range of functional areas that are key to successful management and growth, including sales & marketing, business strategy, organizational development, finance, and more. It’s a great supplement to the expertise I provide your organization, enabling you to tap the knowledge and experience of my expanded network. Subscribe to WIC’s newsletter.

Read Our Article
On project proposals and how to make sure that your next consultant project yields results that meet YOUR expectations – without surprises.


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