Wings? Check. Engines? Check.

By Beacon Staff

Ever see the pilots in an airliner reading checklists or looking over what seems like mundane items? We expect two wings and the proper number of engines to be present. Pilots have a checklist.

Despite having thousands or perhaps tens of thousands of hours of flying experience, pilots can’t afford to forget what might seem like pretty obvious stuff.

An airline pilot might start their morning in a 737-800 and end up piloting a DC10 or 787 by the end of the flying day. Checklists keep them from having to keep hundreds of different configuration, adjustment and setting details in their head.

Whether you fly a plane or run a business, it’s a good idea to know everything’s under control before your wheels leave the ground rather than after.

You won’t likely find anyone who has made a sales call or manned a trade show booth and doesn’t have a story about forgetting a pen. You probably know someone who put the wrong phone number in an ad and no one noticed it despite proofing the ad 10 times.

Since most of you are undoubtedly working on your 2010 marketing calendar – or even better, already have it done – I thought it might help to serve up some things to consider before you put some meat on that bone.

Before you call the print shop, send the email, mail the letter / postcard, record the commercial or film that spot – here’s a checklist of pretty common marketing mistakes to avoid:

Raining on the entire valley

There are about 90,000 people in Flathead County. It should be obvious that you can’t talk to every one of them the same way, even when selling them all the same thing. The things that motivate them to buy, or that stimulate them to solve a problem, are different.

Talking to each of them as if they are the same is a waste of money.

Speaking Technojargon

Just because you understand it doesn’t mean everyone else will. Your marketing needs to speak in the language of the intended reader. It doesn’t make you look smart to use big technical words in dog food advertising. Talk about the bright, shiny coat and the dog’s health, not amino acids and bioflavonoids.

While you may live and breathe left-handed schizzlefitzers, it doesn’t mean your customers do.

They don’t care about you, they care about them

They don’t care about your truck, your 317 years of experience or your really cool logo / building. They care about what you can do to make their problem go away. They need (something) delivered today, by noon, without being damaged or frozen by the -15 degree wind chill. The logo and picture of your building that covers 50% of your ad doesn’t help them see that you’re really on top of that.


Is your ad boring? Show it to a friend. Ask them. Their reaction will be all you probably need to know.

Hit me again.

You’ve heard the ad sales guy tell you repeatedly that it takes (randomly made up number) contacts to get you to buy. Well, sorta. What’s really more important to know is that we forget about you. We just have a lot of other stuff on our minds. You need to remind us you exist and why to give our money to you instead of everyone else who does what you do.

Nice to meet you. Again.

While you need to “hit me again”, depending on the media you’re using, the conversation doesn’t start over each time. Keep it interesting with a sequence of conversations that makes sense.

You aren’t Goodyear

Goodyear can afford (supposedly) to fly a blimp over a ballgame in an effort to produce “branding”. When did you last buy their tires? Was it because of the blimp? Your marketing needs to provoke action, not just say “Hi”.

What does everyone else say about you?

Testimonials are critical and despite some thinking that they are illegal in their line of work, they aren’t (financial types, think a little harder). Yes, new FTC regulations about endorsements and testimonials took hold on December 1, but they only outlawed stupid, smarmy ones.

Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him via email at mriffey at flatheadbeacon.com.