“For our purposes, let’s agree that goals are a reach-it-and-be-done situation, whereas a system is something you do on a regular basis with a reasonable expectation that doing so will get you to a better place in your life. Systems have no deadlines, and on any given day you probably can’t tell if they’re moving you in the right direction. My proposition is that if you study people who succeed, you will see that most of them follow systems, not goals…”

Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert), from his book How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big 

There are no magic, failsafe tactics in marketing. (Or if you know of some you are likely sitting on an exotic beach and not reading this article.) Marketing is really a social science that tries to put frameworks and logic flows around the messy, seemingly disordered way that human beings buy. Like any social science there are no exact answers and no possible way to incorporate, much less exactly measure, all the variables involved.

So how do you win at marketing?

  • Look to the winners. There are companies that are very successful at marketing and sales. And they are successful over time showing that their outcomes cannot be due to simple luck and timing. Identify CEOs in your industry or others that really seem to do it right.  Study what they do and how they do it.
  • Use marketing frameworks. The science of marketing has produced some very valuable models to help with structure and clarity. My personal favorites are the customer buy cycle, business model canvas and the lean start-up methodology.
  • Put in place core marketing systems. I also call them engines.  They are systems like Customer Contact Calendars and KPIs. What matters most is having a system in the first place, executing it consistently and then measuring the outcomes to see if you are going forward, backward or in circles.
  • Experiment constantly. Make it a habit to constantly test new marketing tactics and product ideas. Try them on a small scale and measure behavior and responses.
  • See failure and fear as valuable information. The book quoted by Scott Adams above is based on the premise that all of us fail much more frequently than succeed. What makes a difference in the long run is whether you embrace failure as learning.

What marketing systems do you use? Any changes in the New Year?






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