Are You Marketing Backwards?

Da Vinci notebook
Image by tiny_packages via Flickr

We all know that Leonardo da Vinci wrote backwards, though nobody knows exactly why.

It may have been to keep his work secret, or because he was left-handed (and writing that way was less messy).

Doing things backwards worked for Leonardo, but it’s not a good idea for your marketing.

Is your marketing backwards?

I was just reading this blog post in the NY Times by Jay Goltz.  He owns a picture framing company and his team was doing some sales planning for next year. They were trying to think of some ways to increase business.

A brainstorming session about a hypothetical 100 people in the area who needed framing, but went elsewhere, came up with the following possibilities :

  • “5 percent used us and for some reason decided they didn’t want to come back (we have a very high repeat and referral rate).
  • 25 percent are loyal to another frame shop and have no reason to leave.
  • 20 percent consider us too expensive.
  • 50 percent don’t know about us.”

Self-focused marketing is looking the wrong way

So, they decided to increase their advertising to get the word out. Obviously, this isn’t scientific, and the author readily admits that.  However, there’s another, bigger issue.

Say they spend more on ads, radio, adwords or whatever. Now more people know they exist. Is that enough?

Do you buy from the place you heard of (along with all the other places)? Or, do you buy from the place that’s remarkable? That treats you differently or offers something the other framing stores don’t?

There are lots of places near me (this store isn’t one of them), but no particular reason to choose one over the other. It’s a commodity. I have something I’ve been meaning to frame, and when I do, I’ll just pick one.

They were focusing on themselves, not their clients

They were looking in the wrong direction. They stopped and asked themselves how to get more sales, and their solution was focused inward – we’ll advertise more!

They never asked what the customer might want, such as pickup and delivery of large paintings or faster service. Neither did they focus on building a niche – maybe focus on museums (large, high-quality frames) or hotels (mass frame purchase).

What if the experience was special or unique in some way?

Like this dry cleaner (apologies in advance for the forced commercial; Seth Godin fans look closely at 1:55).

The reason that Hangers Cleaners is doing so well is that they made it convenient and made it fun with silly signs and t-shirts. How many silly dry cleaners have you ever seen?

Marketing forwards (outwards and toward the customer has led this company to improve its revenue, while its competitors are losing money.

Which way are you marketing?