After more years in marketing than I care to publicly confess, here it is. The distilled wisdom and previously undisclosed two-step strategy for success is simply this:
1) Have a clear intention. Know what you want to be, do, or have.
2) Take consistent action. Do the things necessary to achieve the desired outcome.
Like all things simple, the practical reality is somewhat more complex. That’s because the process of taking action in accordance with a clear intention often takes you someplace unexpected.
It’s a fundamental misconception to believe that you can control the process or the outcome of marketing activity. You can have a clear intention (a goal), a step-by-step process for achieving the intention (objectives), and an internal plan for providing the product or service (a strategy). But if taking action alters even the clearest intention, how does an entrepreneur avoid descending into chaos?
Enter the two most important words in the entrepreneur’s vocabulary — not “undercapitalized” — but focus and flexibility. Focus is that rare ability to pay attention to a select number of things — the finite not the infinite. Flexibility is the willingness to continually re-focus your intention based on the new information that arises from consistent action.
If you can’t control the process or the outcome of marketing, where’s the fixed point? The one constant is the customer. Building relationships and providing customer service is not a marketing event but the creation of an environment of trust.
Just as Will Rogers “never met a man he didn’t like”, I’ve never met an entrepreneur who focused too much on potential customers. Passionate belief in their product or service leads many entrepreneurs into the pitfall of universal appeal. Even if everyone on the planet is a potential customer, mass marketing in the early stage of your company development is too expensive and unwieldy.
Focusing on specific groups of potential customers that share common characteristics (vertical markets) is both economical and quantifiable. It’s easy to monitor a target audience response while you build in-depth knowledge of their profile and develop an environment of trust. If focused activity produces results other than those you desire, it’s time to be flexible and re-direct your intention, or approach another vertical market, with consistent action.
The entrepreneurial watchwords for this month — focus, flexibility, and fun. To paraphrase Jolene Godfrey, if you aren’t making money, doing some good, and having fun, what’s the point!