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Today's Marketing Cookie - Eyes on the Goal
"Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off the goal."
Today's Marketing Cookie came from Karen Stone in Nashville, Tennessee. Karen is the Senior Account Manager at Maritz Research and the President of the Professional Chapters Council for the American Marketing Association. I've been lucky enough to know Karen for several years. I can say that to know her is to recognize pure brilliance, uncommon grace and utmost professionalism. As an AMA chapter leader in Boston, Karen gave me inspiration when I was weary, and helped me celebrate every success. You should follow her on Twitter: @catalyst4biz
Let's talk about today's cookie...There is a delicate balance one must maintain in marketing between following the competition and following the competition. Yes. That's correct. Read it again. Follow what they are doing, but don't follow what they are doing. Make sense?
When establishing your marketing goals, it is a good idea to first understand what the competition is doing. They often represent one of the biggest obstacles for getting the leads you need to generate. Before you start moving, take a close look at them. What are their strengths and weaknesses? What are they offering? How do your competitor's products compare to yours? How are they positioning themselves in the marketplace?
Once you've studied the competition, recognized your opportunities, and established your goals, you must take your focus off of them and fix your eyes on your goals. Looking around too much once you're rolling can be dangerous - especially if you are a relatively new marketer. A seasoned marketer knows that if you focus on the competitors too much you will start to look like them, sound like them and you'll lose your differentiation in the meantime.
I remember when I was first learning to drive my mother's giant brown, wood-panel station wagon. She took me out so I could practice driving on the highway, go fast and merge into moving traffic. Wowee! Driving on the highway is the big time for any sixteen year old! As I punched the gas to climb the on-ramp, the engine roared, "big bessie" kicked into high gear, and we were flying. I felt like Bo and Luke Duke in the General Lee yelling, "Yee Haw!!"
My daydream was abruptly vaporized as my tires started rolling over the rumble strip and I was quickly running out of road way. Oh no! As fast as I thought I was going, all the other cars were driving even faster than I. Huge trucks stormed past us and I could feel the car being rocked in their wake. Yikes!! I felt sure that we were going to die. Then, ahead of us was a bridge, with no break down lane, and I had no choice but to merge into the stampeding traffic. I don't know how, but the other the cars suddenly parted like the Red Sea and I was driving on the highway at high speed. Woooot!
I told you that story, so I could tell you this one...
I was feeling more confident cruising on the highway I had moved into the middle lane. I was doing great! Then, I started to feel so comfortable that I began looking around. I saw the old fat man driving a pickup truck full of old rusty scrap metal. On one side of us, I saw an old woman wearing a wide brimmed hat with a her little purse dog sitting on her lap. Then a guy with a long beard, wearing a chrome helmet, zipped by us on a motor cycle. I looked out of my window, and saw a pretty girl driving a mustang. Wow. She was pretty. Then I felt my mom's hand grab the wheel. Whoops!! I was drifting. My mom steered us back into the center lane and scolded me about keeping my eyes straight ahead.
That's how it is in marketing when you look too much at your competitors. Once you climb the on-ramp and get your campaign running at high speed, you need to keep your eyes on the road ahead and watch your dashboard. You have plenty of things to worry about... How fast are you going? How is the engine running? Do you have enough gas in the tank to get there? Monitor your own success and if you decide that you need to change lanes, do so based on prospect response. Of course you should remain aware of your surroundings, but don't look around too much, otherwise you'll lose track of your lane. Don't drift. When you stare at your competitors too much, you could lose the essence of what makes your positioning unique and start drifting into their lane. As you continue to focus on your goals, the obstacles and distractions will disappear and you will start to see opportunities where you can pass them!