Laura Petrolino

How to Choose the Right Marketing Tactics

By: Laura Petrolino | May 2, 2016 | 
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How to Choose the Right Marketing Tactics By Laura Petrolino

Throughout college and in my early twenties I taught a lot of step aerobics.

In fact, I was head of the aerobics department in college (yeah…I’m kind of a big deal) and then, during summer breaks, I taught five to 10 classes a week at various gyms where my parents lived.

Step aerobics was cool then!

Cooler than Zumba ever dreamed of being and I took my dance and cheerleading background and brought it into my classes, which made them very interesting (and rather challenging).

Making up an aerobics routine is sort of like choosing marketing tactics. You have to find the right mix that works best for your audience. You don’t want them to get bored, but you also don’t want them to be so overwhelmed they leave or collapse of exhaustion (literally in aerobics, figuratively in marketing….or at least we’d hope).

Marketing Tactics Aren’t About What YOU Can Do

Instead they are about what your target consumer needs.

Soon after I was promoted to head of the aerobics department, I felt I really needed to define myself as a rockstar instructor. My classes were always full to the brim and I wanted to make sure participants left exhausted and wow-ed by my amazing choreography.

Each week I put together increasingly technically difficult and challenging routines.

I was so proud of myself for my ability to push the boundaries of step aerobic norms with these creative feats of aerobic magnificence, I paid no attention to how my classes responded to said feats of magnificence.

Had I somehow found away to look beyond the glow of my own fabulousity (totally making fabulousity a word) to observe them, I would have realized they were confused, frustrated, and pushed well beyond their limits.

As a result my class numbers diminished.

I unintentionally narrowed my market to a very select niche—those who were also former or current dancers (and saw it as a dance class) or those who were in the athletic elite.

Sometimes forming an exclusive niche market like this is the goal.

It wasn’t in my circumstance.

The tactics I used didn’t align with my goal, and so that goal wasn’t reach (at least until I changed up my tactics, which I did).

Too often we see the same scenario play out with communications pros.

Marketing Is Your Craft, Not Your Product

This problem often develops when we stop seeing marketing as the craft, and view it as the product or goal.

Let’s define the difference:

  • If you are in a reality TV show focused solely on who could come up with the most unique and creative marketing tactics, then marketing is the product.
  • If you are using marketing to help a client or  your own organization reach their business goals (revenue, customers, mindset change, mission), then marketing is the craft.

This is a VERY important distinction.

It’s very easy for us (understandably) to get so caught up in the joy of the craft, we forget it isn’t the actual goal.

This is often what happens when you see elaborate, ridiculously creative, and awe-inspiring campaigns that accomplish absolutely nothing in terms of actual business goals.

As genius as your latest transmedia, augmented reality, Snapchat filtered, <insert bright, shiny new marketing tactic here> campaign is, if it doesn’t align with the needs of your audience you are missing the point.

Check Yo’self Before You Wreck Yo’self

……Because Ice Cube always has sage advice for all of life’s difficult situations (maybe he will come add some insight in the comments section as he sometimes does).

The first place to start is with a solid communications plan. Then consistently self-check with these questions when you evaluate marketing tactics to fill out that plan:

  • How digitally advanced is my market?
  • How do they prefer to consumer information?
  • What influencers do they resonate with best? And what tactics do those influencers employ?
  • Are we making this more difficult then it needs to be?
  • Have we covered all the low-hanging fruit opportunities?
  • What is the goal of each tactic we are employing?
  • What do the analytics and pr metrics say? Are you measuring the right ones?
  • What feedback have we received from our market?
  • How does each tactic support the whole?
  • Do our tactics work together or in opposition?
  • Is this campaign based on ego or goals?

You won’t outstep the competition if you outstep your target market with misaligned marketing tactics (hehehe….outSTEP, get it?)

photo credit: Pixabay

About Laura Petrolino


Laura Petrolino is the chief client officer at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She also is a weekly contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.

  • Have you ever noticed that none of the awards for advertising, marketing, or PR ever go to ‘Who made the client the most money’ but to the ‘talented creatives who forget their creations are for clients vs their own fame? Music is kind of the opposite. Winning a Grammy means you made the record companies the most money vs who is most creative or talented. I won lots of Grammy’s of course…..

    • But WHY have you stopped having meet and greets with the fans who have paid so much money? It’s hard to buy your “exhaustion theory,” Justin!

      • Laura Petrolino

        Not afraid to ask the tough questions here on Spin Sucks Paula! I like it!

    • Laura Petrolino

      Justin! Yes, on the awards! I almost added that here, but didn’t want to go down that road. It’s funny, we have a client who worked with a previous firm and won one of those awards for a campaign that was a huge failure and cost them A LOT of money. Definitely a case study of success.

  • STEP AEROBICS. Leg warmers, lycra, all of it. Oh yes I was there. Pretty uncanny how it was a great parallel to your message about marketing, and you are right! When I am marketing TO, I want it to be easy to consume as you note. // My work with Shot at Life has made my more cognizant of varying levels of digital savvy. My roommate one year was a retired nurse with SO MUCH TO GIVE but she has no Facebook, no social media — and since Shot is quite heavily seeded with millennials and people who LOVE social media, it was an important reminder to me that there are so many people out there who can be part of the message (should be part of the message) as well as people who may be great target audience members, who are not digitally oriented at all.

    • Laura Petrolino

      Yes! It is very easy to get sucked into our little digitally savvy microcosm and forget the entire world isn’t as plugged in or doesn’t use social the same way we do. Likewise, (as …cough, cough…someone’s snapchat efforts shows us….)there are communities we don’t have a firm grasp on, but that doesn’t mean they should be ignored.

      • You know what would be helpful? If you did some type of explanatory 101 post for one of those (cough, cough) difficult-to-grasp communities. 🙂

  • “Are we making this more difficult that it needs to be?” This should probably be question number ONE.

    Great analogy. I can relate as I was one of the people in the back of the step class going – wtf? Can’t she just slow down?
    Thanks for the flashback and great reminder.

    • Laura Petrolino

      Hahaha! As a proxy for all the overzealous instructors out there, SORRY!

      And you are right, we all have a tendency to often make things much harder than they need to me. When we first start with a new client we always look at the low-hanging fruit first. There is normally a lot, that can show remarkable success rather quickly. That’s where we start as we work to develop a long term strategy.

  • Fabulous blog Laura. I like how you use everyday experiences to make your point. I think the last question is very important: Is this campaign based on ego or goals?

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