The Rhumb Line Headline Animator

Friday, March 15, 2013

OUTSIDE THE BOX


“We need to start thinking outside the box.”

If you are like us, when you see, hear or read that you think “What a dork.”  Turns out, that’s the problem. We hate that expression so much we forget what it means. We’ve become a society of people thinking inside the box. We are so afraid of being wrong, we’ve stopped taking chances. We don’t win for fear of losing. And it is happening everywhere - in politics, sports and most certainly in business.

Take marketing, for example. We know print is on life support. It’s expensive and the results are all but impossible to track. Yet many businesses continue to allocate a significant portion of their marketing budget there. Why? Probably because it’s what they’ve always done. Add a long term relationship with the rep and it becomes hard to say no.  That’s thinking inside the box.

"Your proposal is innovative. Unfortunately, we
won't be able to use it because we've never
tried something like that before."
Then there are conferences and shows.  Most amount to a very expensive weekend cluttered with competing options, one on top of the other. Can sales happen? Of course. But considering the amount of money and time that go into a single show, it becomes like a Super Bowl ad. Big bucks, a small pop in sales (maybe) but NO lasting effect. Yet businesses continue to spend huge amounts of their marketing budgets going to shows for fear of what will happen if they don’t go. Again, thinking inside the box.

Now we have social media. A whole new way to market that can have a significant, on-going impact on sales. You can target by age, gender, income, interests, region, whatever. It’s inexpensive but can drive awareness through incredible reach. AND it does something no other media does. It builds trust and loyalty at a degree never before seen.

So what’s the problem? It’s new. It takes time and creativity to connect on an emotional level. Most businesses have not come to that understanding yet. So they think inside the box and give control of their social media to the least experienced staffers (http://www.vmgmediablog.com/2013/02/social-media-rodney-dangerfield-of.html). When nothing happens, they write it off.

There are plenty of companies, early adapters, which have used social media to drive significant sales increases. The concept is proven. So why is there still so much hesitation to move budgets out of less effective, traditional resources?

It’s time to start thinking outside the box.

BRUCE McARTHUR

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