If I had to share just two lessons that I have personally learned over the 20+ years I’ve worked in marketing they would be:
1. It’s always easier for your clients to ignore your message than take positive action.
2. Everything happens at the last minute — so hold your nerve.
Unfortunately, too many marketers don’t understand these basic marketing facts and as a result experience more marketing failures than successes.
Consider This: How many projects have you canceled because you don’t get the kind of response you expected from your initial campaigns? Remember, your clients and prospects aren’t sitting waiting for your instruction to jump — they need to be nurtured, inspired and yes — even pushed. Just because you have (in your opinion) a great deal, doesn’t mean people will react to it immediately.
When you hold your nerve and regularly push your marketing to the last minute, you start seeing patterns in the way that people engage with your campaigns.
As a marketing strategist, I see these patterns all the time when I market and sell tickets for my email, content and social media marketing training events around the UK and Europe.
I typically start my marketing activities two or three months before an event hits a specific city or town by offering a good early bird offer. Typically, this will attract a number of bookings (mainly from small businesses keen to save the money). These early bird sales give me the confidence to book flights and hotels and commit to the event. However, they rarely cover all of my costs.
After the early bird sales end, I enter the nurturing stage. Very little happens in this period and this is where many marketers might lose their faith in the product they are selling. The emails, the blog posts, and the social media activities go out and very little comes in.
Finally, after lots of sleepless nights and spikes in blood pressure — everything happens at the last minute.
Example: I was once sitting on an aircraft heading to an event that I was due to lose significant money on. By the time I landed and switched off the flight-mode on my smartphone, I was greeted by a huge number of last-minute ticket sales that represented a significant profit.
Understanding these patterns helps me to make the decisions that make these events actually happen. If I didn’t hold my nerve and stick it out to the end, I would never leave my office and I would ultimately fail as a marketer.
The Exception to Prove the Rule
Of course, sometimes these patterns don’t always pan out as I would expect.
Sometimes, the early bird offer really catches people’s imaginations and the events sell out straight away. Other times — the last minute sales don’t materialize and I lose money on my events. When this happens, I’m reminded of an event I hosted at a considerable loss that created an incredibly lucrative opportunity.
Beyond Last Minute Sales
I once conducted a training event designed for a room of 20 to 30 people to an audience of just five. One of my delegates had flown into London from Krakow in Poland to specifically attend the event. Three days after my presentation, she sent me an email inviting me over to Poland to present to her wider organization — a trip that not only paid very well but also covered any losses from my meagrely attended event.
From that moment — whenever I lose money on an event — I put this down as a marketing expense. As long as the pattern evens itself out over my financial year, I’m OK with this.
Never Expect Your Clients to Play by Your Rules
The fact is, you can never expect your clients to play 100% by your rules. They have their own priorities and their own problems to solve.
When they buy at the last minute — it doesn’t mean that they haven’t been interested in your activities from the very start of your campaign. They just haven’t been able to commit to whatever you are offering.
Heck, I don’t know what I’m doing tomorrow, let alone next week or several months in advance — so why should I expect my clients to be more organized?
If you really want things to happen, you’ve just got to hold your nerve and start looking for patterns to give you the confidence to commit to doing more.
Of course, smart marketers look at these patterns and use them to optimize future activities. Could you use this information to target a different type of customer at a different time? Could your early bird offers offer a different kind of value (saving cash isn’t always the thing that motivates people)?
Hold Your Nerve
How has holding your nerve helped your marketing campaigns enjoy more success? Share your comments below: