For something to be called a “law” there’s got to be weight behind it. It’s got to be something you can test and take to the bank. You’ve got to be able to refer to it in good times and rely on it during difficult times.
If you’re a founder, CFO, Marketing Manager, Salesperson or Marketing Consultant, you are responsible for the success of the business you’re associated with. You’ve got “skin in the game”. Whether you’re in charge of leading the marketing strategy or charged with supporting the existing one, you can take these 13 marketing laws to the bank.
Let’s call these laws of “Legacy Marketing” because a legacy is something you invest in that pays dividends later on. It’s also something that may be old, and perhaps outdated. It may still work (like that flip phone you’re holding onto, just in case right?!), but there are definitely newer, faster, and downright better ways of getting the job done. Think 5G vs. dialup, email vs. fax. You get the idea.
Yes, 13 seems like an unlucky number, especially as we leave 2020 behind, but I think these laws can add tremendous value to how you look your marketing initiatives and examine how you invest your valuable marketing dollars.
1. The Law of Black Bamboo
Nurture marketing guru, Jim Cecil, introduced the parable of Black Bamboo (Google it. It’s worth the read). Essentially, he laid out the reasoning behind nurture marketing and why and how to build long-term relationships with your customers and clients. Why is it important? Building that long-term relationship is profitable for you and for them. Also, realize that your marketing strategy may bear fruit quickly but that the real prize is the Right ROI at the RIGHT time.
2. The Law of the Billboard
The Law of the Billboard states that in order to reach your audience, you need to know where they are. Billboards are set up along highways and roads. The more travelled a road, the more expensive it is to buy billboard space and the higher the visibility. The advertising dollars are worth it, but you need to know that your customers are, in fact, driving that road in order to justify the investment. Know where your customers are. Invest time, energy and money there.
3. The Law of Relevance
While the Law of the Billboard states that you need to know where your target audience is, the Law of Relevance is all about who your audience is. Develop your marketing around personas, profiles created to detail your audiences pain points, the language they use and the ways in which you can provide value to them. If your messaging is off-target, your audience will disengage. If your messaging is on-target your audience will engage over and over with you and your brand.
4. The Law of Alignment
If your marketing strategy is not aligned to your company’s goals, that misalignment will cause issues later on. A car that is out of alignment may work for the short-term, but if left unrepaired, can cause lasting damage to the car. Conversely, if your marketing tactics and overarching strategies are aligned to your goals, they can be very profitable, indeed. Setting smart goals, then screening your tactics and strategies through that filter, can help to keep them aligned. Additionally, making sure your specific marketing tactics are aligned well is important. Make sure your hiring blog or recruitment blog are aligned with the personas you’ve developed and with your distribution methods like email marketing, SEO tactics, PPC and more.
5. The Law of the Toolbelt
Unless you are a marketing company (and even still), you can only manage a certain amount of marketing tactics well. Instead of a garage full of tools you may or may not use, choose a strategic set of tools that you’ll use regularly and well. If you find that one of those tools works really well, you may purchase a higher quality version to employ. Marketing is similar. Find the tactics that work well and invest well in them. If you find that you need a different tool, make space by ditching a tool you haven’t used in a long time.
6. The Law of the Budget
Everything comes down to a marketing budget, right? Or does it? Instead of a marketing budget, shouldn’t part of it be also labeled “recruiting budget” and “sales budget.” If you’ve created a marketing budget with no overlap into the money-making portions of your business, you’re probably not in alignment (see the Law of Alignment). Additionally, it will be harder to get and maintain buy-in from other stakeholders (see Law number 8). Your goals should drive your strategy and your budget should support the tools at the tactical level (The Law of the Toolbelt) needed to reach those goals. Additionally, if you aren’t actually measuring the results (think KPI’s) then it will be almost impossible to attribute ROI to them. You need to know the value you are getting out of your budget!
7. The Law of Adaptation (or Extinction)
This may seem like an exaggeration, but the facts don’t lie. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 25% of businesses last 15 years or longer. What makes those “25-per-centers” successful? Some of it’s luck. Some of it’s strategy. Some of if is vision. Some nail the marketing right away. The point is. A company that is willing to adapt is more likely to succeed. A marketing strategy that can pivot quickly (think about all the changes that were made when COVID-19 hit) is going to have a higher chance of survival. Just remember a pivot doesn’t mean abandoning the ship just because there is a storm.
8. The Law of Buy-In
This can actually be split into two categories or sub-laws. The Law of the Investor and the Law of the Stakeholder. If the person who is writing the check (the investor) doesn’t understanding the ROI of a marketing strategy, the odds are, the budget will dry up and get reallocated. If the board doesn’t feel that the pennies are making dollars, you’ll be made to do more with less. Furthermore, if the stakeholders (your salespeople, your admin team and your recruiters) don’t understand the strategy or are unwilling to implement their part of the plan, that plan will fall flat on its face. We’ve all heard the stories of the marketing director who bought a very expensive marketing campaign which had no impact! Come to find out, boxes upon boxes of brochures, postcards and beautifully designed envelopes were found in storage spaces years later. No one on the sales team had actually sent out the brochures! Of course the marketing campaign didn’t work. The people who were to be directly benefitted by the results, didn’t want to do the work of sending them out! (This puts the Law of the Budget in perspective, doesn’t it?!) This is absolutely not an anecdote to slam the sales team. There probably had not been enough discussion and planning with the sales team to get adequate buy-in. An amazing plan without the right buy-in, won’t provide results.
Using the Law of Alignment (law number 4) can be a valuable resource for pulling the team together around the company’s goals and objectives.
9. The Law of the Leaky Bucket
Your marketing funnel has many intro points where potential clients and customers can enter. The same is true for exits. Understanding where you are losing potential candidates and clients is important. Understanding that outdated websites can actually turn people away because they still aren’t mobile friendly is essential for your team to understand (the stakeholders and investors alike). If your candidates on a job site are being shared with your competitors, that is a huge risk. Plug those leaks, improve your funnel’s flow, for example, through better recruitment website design.
10. The Law of the Eagle and the Mantis Shrimp
This law is all about vision. The Eagle has the sharpest visions of any creature at a distance and often gets all the credit for incredible vision. However, the Mantis Shrimp has, quite possibly, the most complex vision capabilities of any creature on the planet! They can see more on the light spectrum than anything else because they have more photoreceptors. They key? Different parts of their eyes serve a distinct purpose, and they all work in tandem (this is why the Law of Alignment is so important). It’s important to have the long-sighted vision of the Eagle and to be able to travel there quickly. It’s just as important to see and understand the complexities of an aligned and multi-faceted marketing strategy. Whether you a using recruiting automation tools or more hands-on tactics, understanding how they fit together matters more than understanding the ROI just from the one.
11. The Law of the Level
A level can assist in making sure that how something is constructed is well balanced both esthetically and functionally. A marketing plan should be put to the test and measured regularly. Additionally, being level-headed can also ensure that you don’t abandon a marketing tactic just because the business had a bad month or quarter. The law of the level can also help you not invest time and money in something that’s flashy but doesn’t actually provide a return. (A great example of this could be a fantastic looking website with terrible navigation, poor messaging or no ongoing SEO strategy.)
12. The Law of Timing
Wow! If 2020 didn’t show us anything, it was that certain marketing tactics were going to work well, and some, for a time wouldn’t work at all. If a company decided to pull back on their digital marketing tactics in March, they simply disappeared, because so many people were then working virtually. The worst thing a business can do during tough times is reduce visibility. Their customers may simply assume the business ended up being a casualty, and move on to a different provider. Also, understanding that some marketing tactics provide more immediate returns and some provide longer-term benefits (but equally measurable), is important.
13. The Law of Legacy
This all ties back into law number 1. When you understand that there are stages to your marketing efforts – it builds in perspective. For a time, you may not see the return. It may become frustrating. The key is understanding that what you’re planting may take longer to grow. When you focus on updating your messaging, for instance, you may not see an immediate return. However, when you are able to effectively communicate what differentiates your company from the competition in a current and relevant way, you’re setting yourself up for more (and better) success. Legacy can also be a reminder to change out the tools in your tool belt from time to time, just because they need updating. An old tool may be just as useful as it was when I was new. However a newer tool may be more efficient, safer and easier to use. It may help you get the job done faster, better and with all your fingers in place.
Why Do These Laws Matter?
If you’re looking to build a new marketing strategy or revamp a current or outdated one, it’s never too late. Walk through the laws on a regular basis to test the components of your marketing strategy for weakness and be willing to adjust accordingly. From setting relevant smart goals, to developing your messaging and value propositions, your marketing matters.