Planning for 2014, where is the focus of your marketing?


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This post originally appeared on MENG Blend on 12/25. It starts with a holiday story with an interesting lesson and ends with a challenge to rethink your strategy for 2014:


A newlywed couple is celebrating the holidays. The wife decides to make a big roast for their first holiday dinner in their apartment. As the wife is prepping the rib roast, the husband notices that she cuts off about 30% of the end of the roast and throws it away. As she is placing the roast in the pan the husband inquires, “What’s that about? You just wasted about a third of the meat.” She looks at her husband nonplussed and says, “That’s how my mother taught me how to make it.”


Two years go by and the couple has settled into a starter home. The in-laws are invited over for holiday dinner. The main course is a huge holiday roast. Again, the husband notices the slicing and chucking of the end. He makes a mental note. Later in the evening he pulls his mother-in-law aside and asks her about the wasteful preparation of the roast. She doesn’t think twice, “That’s how Momma showed me when I was growing up.

Another five years pass. Our couple now has two kids and a bigger house. This year the in-laws and the grandparents are invited over for the holidays. Guess what’s on the menu? A huge holiday rib roast. The husband winces as he sees his wife makes the ceremonial cut and toss. In a quiet moment after dinner he sits down next to the grandmother of his wife. “I’ve got a question for you Nana. My wife cuts off about one-third of the roast while prepping it and throws it away. She said she learned it from her Mom, who said she learned it from you. Why do you cut off the end?” The grandmother thought about it for what seemed like a minute before a smile came across her face, “The pan I cooked the roast in was too small. It was the only way to fit it in.

Moral of the story: There needs to be a reason behind every rule. But more importantly, when the reason stops… therefore should stop the rule. The roast is your marketing budget and the pan is your target audience. The only way to reach the masses 50 years ago was through the big three of traditional advertising with TV, Radio and Print. It didn’t matter that a huge proportion of your spend was wasted. In the words of Seth Godin, it was the age of the TV-industrial complex. Make a product, buy TV ads, sell product, make money, buy more ads. Lather, rinse, repeat.

audience by JK RohrsThere is a famous quote by legendary department store pioneer John Wanamaker that still resonates today. “I know 50% of my advertising is wasted, the problem is that I don’t know which 50%.” Today the pan is much bigger and the cost of traditional advertising has made reaching scale nearly impossible. I had the chance to catch Jeffrey Rohrs of ExactTarget speak this week at the Triangle AMA. Jeff was talking about his new book, “Audience – Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans and Followers.” Jeff shared a slide that illustrated this issue:

MENG photo 2 marketing revolution jk rohrs

The number of marketing vehicles has went from 7 to 63 in the last 20+ years. How much time and effort are you still wasting on the big 3?


I want you to think of a holiday meal and specifically the roast as an analogy for your marketing budget in 2014. How are you going to drive growth next year? Where is your main focus? Is it “tell and sell” with a top of the funnel emphasis on acquisition? Or is it “connect and convert” with an emphasis on those at the middle or bottom of the funnel? Or alternatively, is it a below the funnel “retain and grow” approach with an emphasis on current or lapsed customers.

What’s going to be your first bite of the apple? Are you interested in eliminating up to 30% by going from the bottom up?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Stan Phelps
Stan Phelps is the Chief Measurement Officer at 9 INCH marketing. 9 INCH helps organizations develop custom solutions around both customer and employee experience. Stan believes the 'longest and hardest nine inches' in marketing is the distance between the brain and the heart of your customer. He is the author of Purple Goldfish, Green Goldfish and Golden Goldfish.


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