I am turning 50 this summer, but I was surprised at what I saw when I started to dry my hair the other day. Or rather, what I didn't see. I knew I had a nice bald spot up there, but whoa! I realized that I have a big shock of hair in front that I am combing over most of my head. I have a comb-over! At least I don't think it's a bad comb-over. Not yet. And that's when it hit me.
I don't know about you, but I've always wondered why some guys have such bad comb-overs. Now understand, I fully realize how idiotic it is for me to be criticizing anyone over his appearance—I'm no prize. And I also realize that if it's a "good comb-over" that I don't notice it—I notice the bad ones.
But we all have these secret thoughts about other people and I am just stupid enough to tell you mine. And, as uncharitable as it makes me appear, I have to admit that when I see a guy with a bad comb-over, I wonder why he decided to do it. But I finally figured it out while staring at my own rapidly balding head. No one decides to have a bad comb-over. He just fails to notice he should stop doing it. It's not a decision—it's the lack of a decision.
And isn't that what happens to us in our marketing? (You hoped I would get around to marketing, huh?)
It's easy for us to fail to realize when something is no longer working. I know you've been paying for that display ad in the Yellow Pages since Nixon was president, but is it still working? Any chance that you should be buying a listing in Internet Yellow Pages, too?
I know that you've cleared your calendar for the last week of June so you can brainstorm this fall's brochure for the trade show. You do it every year. But do you ever make the same effort for your Web site?
And it's not just the hoary old offline techniques that must be revisited. If you're still focused on search marketing but not social media marketing, are you missing something? If you emphasize great online copy, but are ignoring images and videos, how did that happen?
It's probably comb-over marketing—bad comb-over marketing. You never decided to ignore any of these new techniques, you just failed to notice that your existing marketing wasn't the best choice anymore. So take a look in the mirror and stare down your actual situation. If your marketing looks much the same as it did two years ago or (worse) five years ago, it probably doesn't look as good as you think.
It probably looks old.
Now, for some of you, this is OK. Not every small business needs to be trendy. And certainly no business needs to follow every trend. So if your marketing is measurably effective, if you can honestly say that you can't imagine doing better, then your marketing is fine.
But if you've noticed competitors getting a step ahead, thinking up some tactic that never dawned on you, finding target markets that aren't reachable with your current marketing techniques, then you might need a new 'do. You don't need to throw out every current marketing tactic, and you don't need to run headlong after every new thing that comes along, but commit to yourself that you'll try just one new thing. Today.
Don't let inertia drive your marketing plans. It's not good enough to settle for what you've always done. If you're still doing the same old thing, it's probably because you haven't taken that second look.