Cartoon of man going mad and pulling his hair out!

There is no doubt that one of the most commonly heard clichéd sayings surrounds the definition of “Insanity”. It is often credited to Albert Einstein, but like so many famous saying attributed to him, there is very little evidence to back this up.

Albert Einstein Characture

The saying goes that “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”. It is very similar to one of my own favourite sayings.… “if you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got” (another one previously credited to Einstein, along with Henry Ford and Tony Robbins).

Basically, both of these phrases intimate that if you want a different outcome, you need to change what you are doing. In terms of marketing, this can definitely be the case, and for a more detailed explanation on this see our recent blog on Marketing’s Golden Bullet Secret. However, we also regularly come across a different form of insanity in marketing, and it is almost the polar-opposite to this commonly accepted definition.

Marketing Insanity…..

Clearly in marketing, if something is not working, then you need to change it in some way. However, if something is really working positively for you and getting a return on investment, you would think that a company would want to ramp up this activity, or at the very least keep momentum building so a steady pipeline of potential prospects and orders are building. Wouldn’t it be insanity if something that was working for you, was just stopped? That you just turned the tap off?

It sounds ridiculous, but this is exactly what happens with small to medium businesses, and more often than you might believe. We come across it all the time to a point where it has become so commonplace, it no longer comes as a surprise. Most of the packages that we offer start with an initial fact-finding process which ask a lot of challenging questions surrounding the company’s objectives, its products and services, financial KPIs, customers, competitors and external factors and marketing activity.

The Realisation…..

Whenever we come on to the section surrounding marketing activity, we often ask whether businesses have ever invested in certain activities in the past (such as Google Adwords, PR, print advertising, direct mail, newsletters, email marketing, networking, events etc). Whenever someone indicates that they have invested in a particular activity we probe a little deeper as to how successful it was.

You would instinctively think that if they had invested in something in the past, but they no longer did, it was because it didn’t work for them. However, so often we get the response “Yes, it worked really well” or “we picked up some major clients” or “it got a great return on investment”. So we simply ask “so why did you stop doing it?”

Cue the blank face. The light bulb moment. The sound of pennies dropping!

Realisation Cartoon of Why did we stop?

You see, quite often activity is habitual, and if, for whatever reason, you got out of the habit of doing it (typically got too busy, lack of resource, “the person who used to do that left”), it is very easy to forget that it actually used to work well for you. It was never deliberately or consciously axed, it just slipped away quietly without anyone noticing.

Take the Test!

So, how can you test whether the you have been insane with your marketing? Take 10 minutes out of your day and write a list of all the marketing activities your business has undertaken over the last 5 years – it could be very general activity of specific campaigns that spring to mind. Then next to each one, write down (YES/NO) whether you feel it was worthwhile or not (in terms of tangible results and not just “brand building”). Circle those that you feel worked best for you. Then next to that write down a tick for those you still do and a cross for those you are not actively doing, along with the reason why you stopped doing them.

Look at your reasons and consider whether this reason is still valid as to why you couldn’t start doing them again? There may be valid reasons – it may be that SEO worked in the past but now Google’s algorithm changes have ended up making all that effort redundant, or worse still penalising your website. But it could be just because you got a bit busy at the time, or Dave left the business (who you have since replaced)!

If you have any on your list that are circled and you have no good reason for not starting them again, then simple start re-introducing that activity back into your marketing activity plan and see the enquiry rate start to grow again. Apologies if this sounds a little simple, but marketing is a really simple discipline which is often overcomplicated. The good news is that there is a cure to marketing insanity!

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Ian is the founder of Opportunity Marketing marketing, with over 18 years of experience in successfully setting up marketing departments, creating marketing strategies and implementing these strategies across a wide number of SME companies in both the B2B and B2C sectors through a variety of channels.