I bought a lawn mower, and other marketing lessons.

Here’s a post from a good friend and superb marketing guru, Rodrigo Espinosa — check out his agency site, www.huddleagency.com, for more words of wisdom!

After decade as a city dweller, I moved to the suburbs. I was so excited about owning a piece of land, especially all that lovely grass so neatly laid out in the backyard, that I went to Home Depot my very first weekend as a homeowner and bought…a lawn mower.

I knew nothing about lawn mowers. I did zero research. I bought he first one I saw, a shiny red number.  So, there I was with a new lawn mower, ready to be “that guy.”  Mister Homeowner.  Lord of Landscapers.  Et cetera, et cetera.

Turns out the one I bought – the one that had looked so slick and smart — came without a bag to collect the freshly-cut grass. As I cut my small patch of paradise, grass flew everywhere. I spent hours raking it up from all over the yard.  More time, no doubt, than I’d spent mowing in the first place.

This happens to marketing departments. I call it the Shiny Red Syndrome.  They begin to scream, “we need a Facebook page!  A Twitter account!  A new website!”  Or they need to execute events and attend trade shows…moving forward without having fully, deeply thought things through, or nor doing research (competitive or otherwise).  So, pretty soon thereafter they’re running hither and yon chasing badly-spent marketing dollars.

Before tactics come insights, which drives strategy.

Back to my lawn mower experience: I should have first done an internal assessment, which would have led me to the conclusion that I’m not “that guy” at all.  Yard work is not in my DNA. But let’s say I ignored that important fact and went to Home Depot. Then it’s about research, my friend, research! What’s the best lawn mower for a beginner?  What’s the bag for?  How do I work one?  Critical aspects of the grass mowing experience which should be addressed prior to purchase.

Marketers skip the insight and strategy part — a lot.  First, start off asking what phase your company is in – startup?  Growth?  Matured?  What resources do you have in place to fulfill on marketing efforts?  Is the brand in place, and your core value proposition?  Who are your current customers, and who would you like to attract?  Where do they reside?  Online or offline?  (Hint: the answer is, both)  What trade shows map to your growth strategy? Can you score a speaking slot?  How about doing “thought leadership” white paper publication, or leveraging other earned media?  And your CEO — how can you best use him/her to promote the brand?

So, don’t fall for the “shiny red” anything. Do your research, get your brand solidified and your value proposition nailed down. Or you’ll find yourself rake in hand, chasing after marketing dollars spread all over that alluring backyard.

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