You can’t bargain over the price

When business owners seek out a new marketing plan, it’s rarely because the last plan didn’t work. It’s because, for one reason or another, the last plan wasn’t worked.

When business owners seek out a new marketing plan, it’s rarely because the last plan didn’t work.

It’s because, for one reason or another, the last plan wasn’t worked.

The plan as written was either unimplementable, unsustainable, or so unenjoyable that it got put back on the shelf, or buried in the “FINAL Final Marketing Plan_2021” folder deep in the depths of the operating system.

It presumed a budget the business didn’t have. Or resources they couldn’t muster. Or a pace that wasn’t sustainable. Or tactics that the business owner didn’t like and was never going to do.

That’s why marketing plans rarely outright fail, they just don’t get implemented. Because, in reality, they couldn’t be. Nothing ever goes according to plan, so if all you have is a plan, you don’t have much.

And so business owners end up doing very little marketing at all, or what they do is so inconsistent that it feels like they’re trying something new every week, every month, or every quarter. And neither of those approaches work.

It’s very rare to actually need a dense, 50-page marketing plan that makes a million assumptions about the future, the market, and the customer.

What many if not most business owners really need is a strategy, a structure, for making marketing decisions and making improvements every day based on what’s working and what isn’t.

In short, they need the means and the motivation to do the hard work of marketing.

As Kipling wrote, “If you don't get what you want, it's a sign either that you did not seriously want it, or that you tried to bargain over the price.”

And the price of marketing success is doing your marketing, implementing your ideas, and measuring, optimizing, and improving every single day.

Working at it, until it works.

And you cannot bargain over that price.

There is no simple trick, no productivity hack, no detailed plan, and no external partner that can remove your responsibility of marketing your company.

“Making things and selling things are the two basic functions in business,” Blair Enns wrote. “For our business to succeed we must succeed at both.”

But if we continue to let ourselves believe that we don’t like marketing, we’ll self-fulfill that prophecy. We’ll never enjoy it, and so we’ll never do it—or do our best at it. And so it won’t work, because it can’t work, and we’ll go off in search of another expensive plan or campaign.

Instead, we need to convince ourselves that we can like it, so that we can keep at it and work until it works.

Because the first step in marketing success is acknowledging that our marketing must be done in the first place, and, as business owners, it must be done or led by us.

If we’re unwilling to take on our marketing as our responsibility, a big advertising campaign isn’t going to help. Because what are we actually going to do with that awareness and how are we going to translate that into sales once the campaign ends?

And if we’ve decided that marketing is entirely someone else’s job, our new marketing plan will be perpetually underfunded and under-implemented, because without leadership buy-in, nothing can succeed.

Of course, if your marketing is currently humming along nicely, and a bigger push or some extra help will take it to the next level, go for it. Get that new campaign, write that new plan, hire that new team member.

But if you’re not doing your marketing because you don’t like it or it feels unsustainable, save your money and solve that problem first.

Build yourself a structure to do something for your marketing every day—and start with just the stuff you like to do.

The little bit of marketing you do works a heck of a lot better than the massive tactics you don’t do. Or the fancy new plan you don’t implement.

You can use our DEW framework, or you can develop your own means of keeping yourself motivated to stick with it.

But the only way to win in the game of marketing is to keep playing, staying in it longer than your competition by staying sustainable, and enjoying it so you do your best.

We can’t bargain over the price of marketing success, we just have to pay it.

As Greg McKweon wrote plainly, “In order to succeed at something, you have to get it done.”

But that doesn’t mean we can’t like it—in fact, we have to like it.

Because if there’s any secret to marketing, that’s the secret: It only works if you like it, and you’ll never like it if it isn’t working.

And it can’t work if you don’t actually do it.