5 Things Santa Can Teach You About Marketing
As the year winds down for most of us, one man is busily preparing for a monumental event; flying all around the world to deliver toys to all the good boys and girls on Christmas Eve. In the spirit of the season, we’re going to look at what Santa Claus can teach us about marketing, so kick back and enjoy a nice glass of egg nog while you learn from a Christmas icon known throughout the world.
Thorough planning and preparation can produce amazing results.
To most kids, a large part of the excitement of Christmas is getting up early to find stacks of presents sitting under the tree and tucked in their stockings. While they all know the story about Santa and his reindeer flying around the world to deliver toys to boys and girls everywhere, few give a second thought all the work he and his elves put into building these toys, not to mention tasking care of the reindeer, maintaining his magical sleigh and probably shoveling lots and lots of snow. That is 364 days of tirelessly working to prepare for an event that takes place just one night each year.
Are you putting anywhere near that level of preparation into your marketing, or are you like most people who get a marketing idea and just run with it? I’m a big fan of running with an idea and adjusting it as I go, but you still need to prepare. Some basic questions you should ask your self before moving forward are:
- Do you have goals that you can measure? Santa knows that he need to deliver toys all the kids on the “nice” list and coal to the ones on the “naughty” list. That’s pretty straight forward. What are your goals and how can you measure them?
- Do you have the manpower to accomplish your goals? Santa has team of elves with a work ethic that’s hard to find these days, and they all know exactly what they need to do. Can you rely on your employees? How about if your marketing really takes off and you have a sudden and dramatic influx of new business? Will your staff, vendors, manufacturers and shipping partners be able to meet the demand?
- Do you have the budget to accomplish your goals? Santa knows how much it will cost to build the toys he needs, feed his reindeer and even put a shiny new coat of candy apple red paint on his sleigh, so long before Christmas Eve, he knows if he’s on track financially. Have you accounted for any potential costs that may come up for your marketing? An unsuccessful marketing campaign is bad, but a successful one that you can’t afford to continue is even worse.
Speaking of the elves…
You can accomplish far more with the help of others than you ever could on your own.
Santa could never build enough toys each year for kids all around the world without the hard-working and loyal elves by his side. Likewise, you will never achieve as much on your own as your could by working with others, because they can offer a different perspective, much needed motivation or perhaps advice on challenges they’ve already overcome. Believe it or not, people actually enjoy helping other people – they key here is “helping” – not doing everything for you. You need to come to the table with specific and well thought out questions. Don’t expect much if you ask something ridiculous like “How can I get rich on the Internet?”
A great example is Aaron Wall’s SEO Book, a membership-based community. Unlike the countless free communities out there, the focus is on quality; the monthly fee keeps the riff-raff out. Instead you’ll find people who are 100% dedicated to succeeding online, and while there are certainly a fair amount of new comers, the community has a tremendous number of extremely experienced Internet marketing professionals who are always willing to share their knowledge.
You should handle your business the same way. When I first started out, I didn’t, and while I still accomplished quite a lot, I could have achieved a lot more and done it much more quickly had I put more time and effort into the human aspect of business. Fortunately, I realized this quickly started connecting with more people outside of my company, and along the way, I’ve met some great people who I feel have become pretty good friends. They’ve helped me in countless ways and I hope they feel that I’ve done the same for them. I believe that you can achieve whatever you want in life as long as you help others achieve what they want.
If you’re still trying to be the proverbial “island” I highly recommend changing course and connecting with others; but remember, it’s not about what they can do for you, it’s about what you can do for each other.
Have laser-like focus.
Santa knows exactly what his core business model is; making and delivering toys to all the good little boys and girls around the world. He doesn’t offer show shoveling, dog walking or firewood chopping services along the way. Instead, he sticks to what he does best, and as a result, no one can accomplish what he does. Well, maybe the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program comes close, but that’s a different story; my Marines rock! The point is that when you focus intensely on your core business, it makes it easy to excel at it, equally important, it makes it easier to market your company.
Never underestimate the value of your list.
Thanks to the song Santa Claus is Coming to Town, everyone knows that he’s making a list and he’s checking it twice. You should be too, because a quality list can be one of the most valuable things in your toolbox. You can use a program like Act! to build and maintain a list of prospects, clients, vendors and other contacts, and a service like Aweber to deliver your message to them, and it’s relatively easy to share data between the two. The more detailed your list is, the better. For example, if you know your clients buying history, you can quickly and easily send them a message about new products that they might be interested in. Amazon has this process fine-tuned to near perfection.
When it comes to building your list, don’t be tempted to take short cuts. Buying one is always a bad idea because 99 times out of 100, you’ll end up with an list full of invalid addresses, and the few valid ones are unlikely to even be in your target market. To make matters worse, since they didn’t sign up for your newsletters, you will make a bad impression by emailing them.
You should treat your list like solid gold; be careful who has access to it, keep it up to date, don’t abuse it and don’t share it. At first, your list may not seem very impressive or useful, but as it grows, you can easily find yourself in a position where a single mailing can create tens of thousands of dollars in revenue at the press of a button.
Giving is good for others and for you.
Face it, we all love to get things. Gadgets, valuable advice, even a glowing testimonial from time to time. But don’t forget to give, too. And not just out of reciprocity, and not with the expectation that you’ll get anything in return. Give just to give. Contrary to what some people may think, business is not a zero-sum game. Sucess begets success. When I succeed, I hire more people and buy more products or services from others, which means those people become more successful, and they can hire more people and buy more products and services from others. It’s an endless cycle where everyone wins.
Besides, it will make you feel better, which usually helps you get better results out of both your work, and life in general. It also creates good will, and people will be more likely to help you achieve your goals. Another side benefit to helping/teaching others is that it helps you to sharpen your own skills.
Think back to when you first got started. For me, I found a relatively quiet search engine optimization forum that was frequented mostly by old SEO pros who had been in the game since before meta tags mattered. I knew web design, but didn’t know the first thing about SEO. Fortunately Morgan Carey and many of the other members there were more than happy to point me in the right direction, and before long, I was helping the other members there. I was able to apply that knowledge to drive quite a bit of traffic to my website, while developing a reputation as an expert and bringing in more clients.
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