If you’ve been around them much at all, you know that babies are born to be scientists. From the moment they can interact with the world, they’re experimenting on it. To study gravity, they test the velocity at which spaghetti drops to the floor. They track human reaction times by reaching for unattended glasses of red wine. They’re also marvelous archeologists—able to excavate the most obscure and tasty items from between couch cushions.

As time goes by, we eventually become natural-born marketers and begin to exercise our psychological and creative skills to influence others. While babies are born into science, the marketing mind is developed through experience and exposure to billions of advertising messages each day. (I’m not sure if it’s actually billions, but it seems like it, doesn’t it?)

The result of all this exposure is that you have become a natural-born marketer. Yes, you’ve got what it takes to do this all on your own: You’ve got ideas. You know what you like. And you’ve got the tools to make it happen.

You’ve got ideas

You can’t help but have creative ideas about how to market your product – or even someone else’s product. Ideas are a wonderful thing, and you should be generating them constantly. It’s true that the most fun part of marketing is idea generation. But the discipline of marketing is knowing which ideas to implement. That’s where strategy comes in. With a deep understanding of your brand, your customers, and your competitors, you can make sure you’re investing your time and money in the most effective way. 

There are two dangers in pursuing every idea that comes your way: First is the very real risk of being distracted from a your main marketing strategy. You’ve no doubt heard about “chasing shiny objects.” Another thing to avoid is implementing ideas that don’t connect with your target audience or build the image you want for your brand. This kind of frivolity can not only be a waste of time and money, but it can confuse or even turn off your customers. 

Keep coming up with ideas, but be sure you’re questioning each one of them. Before you invest much time or money into a new idea, make sure it’s the right fit for your brand and, most important, for your customers.

You know what you like

I’m proud to say that I’m one of those Superbowl watchers who wanders away during the game and tells everyone to shush during commercials. Actually, since the advent of Superbowl ad highlight reels, I only attend the party for dips and sliders. I love good ads, and I’m not alone.

Being so thoroughly saturated with advertising for your entire life – from reading breakfast cereal box as a kid to skipping pre-roll ads – has made you a connoisseur of advertising. You know what you like.

The problem is, do you know what your customers like? I’m not saying you don’t, but this isn’t a question you can answer with your gut. Marketing strategies need to align with the needs and interests of your target audience. And the media you use to reach them has to be what they’re watching, not what you’re interested in.

You’ve got the tools

Back in the Mad Men days, very few people had access to the means of marketing production. Today, anyone can make a video or a visual and distribute it to thousands with the click of a button. But, as they say, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. 

Making your own advertising feels tempting – cut out the middleman – but this is fraught with all the issues I’ve already outlined above. Add to that the very real possibility that, while you’re a pro at what you do for a living, you may not be the one who should be designing logos or writing headlines.

It may seem like I’m trying to tell you that you can’t trust your marketing instincts. That’s exactly what I’m trying to tell you. Marketing for a long-term sustainable brand is more about strategy than instinct. Strategy comes from truly understanding your target audience, establishing a clear positioning, and sticking to your core messages over time. If you’ve got big ideas, they need to sync with your plan. It’s not as glamorous as it looks on TV, but it can still be fun.

Copyright Liz Behlke 2021