I learned something from my last few posts: The people who read this blog like to respond by e-mail. OK, maybe I’m generalizing based on just a few events (e-mails in response to posts), but I do get e-mail, and I don’t get many comments.
I didn’t intend to experiment to find out how my “market” likes to engage. But what I did was, on a small scale, the kind of experiment in which marketers engage every day: Put something out into a market or segment and see how people respond. Do the same thing (at the same time) to comparable but different versions of the same “thing” (offer, message, whatever) in different but comparable markets or segments and you’ll end up with a good idea of what works and what doesn’t.
Marketers do this all the time. And, I hope, as a result they improve how they talk to their market.
Marketers (and, I’ve noticed, many companies) are not as good at the kind of experimentation that creates change. It’s really not that different. Experiment with things you have not yet tried. Try a new medium for communication – outbound, inbound or (preferably) two-way. Try a few all at once. See if any work. Maybe try a structure to a program, or create something in your market that’s never been created before. It might not work, but it might, and even if it doesn’t, you’ve learned something about having the conversation with your market that your current structure would never have allowed you to learn.
Using simple methods, like piloting, controlled experiments, and allowing the emergence of what works and what doesn’t, this type of experimentation can be successful in almost every organization. And when you learn what works, and then work to improve it, you create the kind of marketing innovation that puts you ahead of your competition.
Why does this matter? I will refrain from beating the now-tired drum of “the market is changing” (which really means your buyer is changing) – we all know it’s true, and will continue to be. If you’re trying the same things over and over again (even if you are improving them every time), you will become irrelevant.
Why does it matter now? In the past year, I’ve seen several companies start to see their marketing effectiveness eroding, only because they won’t (or don’t know how to) try something new. And I don’t know if I believe the doom-and-gloom economic forecasts, but I do believe that the market will become more challenging in 2008 than it was in 2007.
So the question is: are you going to keep doing what made you successful last year, and let someone else find a new way to beat you? or are you going to experiment with new ideas and find the new way to beat them?