Key to marketing success? Hit ’em where they ain’t

I met with a customer the other day who said she could never be creative enough to be in marketing. Of course I encouraged this line of thinking. Otherwise, why would she need me? ; )

But the fact is, the engine of marketing is research and data. To be sure, the best marketers need a flair of creative inspiration to look at a spreadsheet and find trends and truths, but the heart of marketing strategy — ALL marketing strategy — is fact-based analysis.

One of my favorite quotes is from an old baseball player and batting champion Willie Keelerwho said the secret to his success was to “Hit ’em where they ain’t.”

Successful marketing depends on the same thing. Don’t be the same.  You need to occupy a niche where you can find unmet or under-served customer needs. And the only way to do that is to get out there and talk to them. Find those facts. Do that research … and your strategy has a tendency to reveal itself.  Right?

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  • Amazing. You shortened a whole book (Blue Ocean Strategy) to a succinct 4 paragraphs! Insightful and helpful as always. 

  • Yep, that’s pretty much it.

    Only it’s so much easier to say it than to do it, non? 🙂

    I hope you had a great Christmas, Mr. Mark. 

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Mark. 
    “Get out there and talk to them.” – The reason for one of my favorite quotes: “A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.” – John le Carre 

    Too many times I’ve found that research is believed to be staring at spreadsheets. Understanding the metrics of a business is important but we miss what is really happening in the business if we don’t get out and listen.

  • Good idea. Perhaps I will summarize every business book in one paragraph. That would be a good challenge. : )

  • It is difficult but it is where I always start with customers!

  • Customers lead us to the truth. Except when they don’t. How’s that for a quote? : )

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  • Anonymous

    Bingo 🙂

  • Great post.  So many businesses try to reach everyone and are surprised when there sales are only average or declining.  Finding out who your niche is and why they need you requires data gathering and lots of research; which is very hard work.  Once you finish the hard work, you are on the path to a successful strategy.   

  • Right on Mark. I especially agree with occupying a niche – too many startups base their products and services on targeted demographics, when they should be focusing on groups of people who share the same needs (regardless of demographic). Demographics matter of course, but narrowing your focus to a niche is crucial in competitive markets. 

  • Agreed. Blue Ocean Strategy was a tad overrated (IMO) because it was so much of just this: Be where the others aren’t. The idea behind going where others don’t is to think that you’re creating a new market for your customers, not necessarily going some place that already exists. Create a new market.

  • I haven’t read the book but in my mind this is what marketing is all about! 

  • Would be interested to know how that is working for you in your banking industry Jeremy.  I’m guessing a big decision is simply convenience?  Is there really much banks can do to stand out since it is so regulated? Advertising and marketing for sure. Social media to some degree. I guess you could focus on certain segments like home-buyers or seniors. A challenge.

  • The other thing I find with start-ups is that they may not know their niche until they get there. I’ll bet the founders of Twitter had no idea how Twitter would be used compared to what we see today. Sometimes customers have to figure out your niche for you! : )  In that case, you have to be smart enough to read the market and react!

  • Without giving too much away, I can say we focus on business owners in East TN.  So far this strategy has been very successful for us.  Since we are local and smaller than most banks, we are better equipped to approve deals quicker and can customize services for our customers. 

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  • The best of Management By Walking Around. It’s amazing how often the opportunity to talk to the very people you serve when you take the time to get out and interact. But it seems to be the hardest easy work you can do. 

  • I slept reading the book lol.. Agree with @PaulFlanigan:disqus that its overrated. 

  • Nice. Thanks!

  • Ha! LOL

  • Well said. Completely agree.

  • LoL! Its too “business-seeee” for me. 

  • Shelley

    Nice short post about the secret to success-being unique and different enough to stand apart. 

  • Right On, Mark. Either do the same thing better than your competition or do what they’re not willing(or able) to do.

  • Well said. Thanks for the comment!

  • Ben Hodes

    Verry interesting, glad to read this article. thnx <3

  • cDOG


  • Ihatethisclass

    Mr. G made us

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