Here is one of the great revelations of marketing. This is something I figured out over time and I am not sure exactly how. Certainly no one told me this and I didn’t read it anywhere. Maybe it is because I was a math major and just think about things mathematically. It is this:
Marketing is a game of pure statistics.
Ask anyone – I mean anyone – how they got their clients or their customers – especially their first clients or customers — and it is (almost) always completely serendipitous. It was a result of a series of events that could not be predicted or planned for.
“I was picking up my three-year-old daughter from a play group because my nanny who usually does was sick, so there I was. I met the mom of my daughter’s friend, who happens to be a high-powered… and we were talking. I mentioned…. and then she said……. and the next thing you know, there I was…..”
It is all completely random. Indeed, if you make a marketing plan with ten target customers or clients, it almost always works out that your best shot fails and one you thought had no chance at all turns into a big win.
In the legal world, if you ask a big rainmaker for advice you will hear everything, and stated with incredible confidence too, as to how you get clients. You hear:
It is on the golf course – that’s where “real” business is done.
It is from across the table – clients see you take their lawyer to the cleaners and they want you on the next matter.
You just do great work and the clients will find you.
You meet people at the synagogue or church and then talk business later.
You get clients from referrals.
You just be a nice guy, since clients like to work with people they like.
You just be an asshole, since clients want someone tough working for them so they can feel protected.
The reason you will hear just about everything from all sorts of people is that this happened to work for this particular rainmaker, so she thinks it is critical, and the be-all and the end-all of marketing success, but it is (almost) always happenstance that tricks the person into thinking that is “the way” when it is just “a way” that happened to succeed in that circumstance.
You simply cannot predict what will happen.
Of course, I cannot “prove” my theory that it is all about statistics; however, I am pretty certain I am right. So please consider trusting me here.
Now all this talk about statistics may sound very depressing. “Bruce is advocating the randomness of life, which effectively means not only marketing, but life itself, is purely random and therefore pointless. Gee!”
However, once you accept my theory that marketing is essentially random and statistically based, and you get over being a bit shocked by that, some amazing revelations spring from it:
First – if you know you cannot predict outcomes, then the best chances of success will come from making as many marketing attempts as possible.
Second – you should spend as little time as possible on each attempt, since you are trying to maximize the number of attempts.
Third – within the framework of the first two points here, you should make the attempts as effective as possible.
That is what a statistician/mathematician would do with the foregoing information, right? Instead of trying to pretend the world is not what it really is, a mathematician would just do the foregoing, wouldn’t she? It is all just simple math – I don’t think of myself as a weirdo (although that is of course a subjective self-evaluation); however, I live my life by mathematics, since math doesn’t lie to you. It tells you the truth which, as I noted above, I highly value, and then I work from there.
Ultimately, the lesson I am giving you here is that, whatever you are doing with your marketing, be efficient with your time. Spending twenty hours writing an article will make you “feel good” like you are “marketing” and doing something useful, but just playing the mathematical odds, this is not a strategy that is as likely to succeed as would spending those twenty hours doing the other things I have suggested to you in prior columns and will suggest to you in future columns.
You should have no reason to be depressed about this revelation. Indeed, instead, you should be energized and excited by it. You just learned a key fact in how to play the marketing game:
Make as many attempts as possible.
Spend as little time as possible on each attempt.
Make your attempts as effective as possible.