The other day, someone told me that My Media Labs was “lucky” to have ran a certain successful marketing campaign last summer, and then wished us “luck” in replicating the results this year. I know that he meant well, but statements like this are the perfect example of the fact that most people have the wrong idea about marketing. If you are promoting your business with this kind of “blind luck” about marketing then this post is for you.
What Great Marketers Learn From Black Jack
We generally define luck as “success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions”.
When applied to marketing, luck seems to favor the “throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks” approach. It means not really doing your homework, spending money on the latest software or Internet fad and basically tossing marketing dollars (or shekels) into the trash can.
But if we really look at the idea of “luck” we see that it’s a figment of the imagination, a mental security blanket we cling to in the hopes that a course we’ve chosen will come out right. For example, let’s take the game of Black Jack or any “game of chance” for that matter.
There are certain rules to the game:
- Each deck has 52 cards:
- 16 cards in the deck have a value of 10: Jack (4), Queens (4), Kings (4), 10 cards (4)
- 4 cards in the deck have a value of 10 or 1: (4) Aces
- 32 cards in the deck are broken up into groups of 4 cards each with values between 9 and 2
- Additional decks can be added to the available cards (multiply the above numbers by any additional decks used)
- Each player starts with 2 cards and must beat the dealer by getting as close to a value of 21 without “busting” to 22 or greater
- Players can “hit” for an additional card or “hold” to keep their current hand
- When dealt two of the same card, a player can “split” their hand and play each one separately within the given round
As you can see, Black Jack involves a very structured set of probabilities, and depending on which cards are left in the decks to be dealt, a skilled player can make choices about their current hand that makes it more likely they will win. Therefore, “games of chance” is a misnomer – they are really “games of probability”.
Marketing: An Investment in the Game of Probability
The Oscar Award winning movie, Rain Main showed just how much a skilled player can influence the game of Black Jack by “counting cards”. While such activity is technically against the rules of most casinos and Black Jack games, great players have the ability to keep track of the cards dealt and determine the probability of certain cards being dealt to inform them of the risk in making certain best on their current hand. Producing a return on investment for your marketing should be as methodical as breaking down the rules of Black Jack and using them to your benefit.
Great companies understand that marketing is an investment. The best campaigns and products are clear about the potential cards and the decks they are dealing with, namely, the target customers. There are different outcomes that can be sought from the marketing game, but the generally fall into one of these categories:
- New product or service sales
- Branding or company awareness
- Thought leadership or establishing expertise
Certain activities influence the outcome of the marketing game, and winning a particular hand (succeeding in a campaign) usually means outperforming industry standards or company history for that marketing activity. For example, a successful email marketing campaign in the real estate industry must beat the following benchmarks:
- Open Rate -22.12%
- Click Through Rate – 2.68%
- Soft Bounce Rate – 1.29%
If your real estate email campaign does better than these numbers, congratulations. You are a winner.
Three Moves You Can Make to Improve Your Marketing Game Today
The keys to winning the marketing game are patience, persistence and passion. If you blend these three ingredients into your marketing mix you will see success over time.
That mix should include the following three moves:
- Develop and continue evolving a dynamic, user friendly website that serves as the home base for all of your marketing.
- Publish new content via your website’s blog on a regular basis.
- Promote your expertise by engaging in online networks and other well trafficked areas that your target audience visits regularly.
On that last point – engaging doesn’t mean bragging about your company or products. It means adding value to those forums by offering help, advice or support, re-purposing content (sometimes in full) to provide users with convenient access to your ideas and being generous with your expertise. The investment in focusing on these three areas will pay off as you influence the probabilities of customer conversion.