“But where are the Drones?” A Classic Example of Missing the Point

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You know that saying, “you can’t see the forest for the trees”? That’s a real thing. I experienced a real-life example just a few weeks ago.

We deliver two kinds of marketing plans. One is called the Primary Marketing Plan – we spend a single day with a client and identify their most pressing issues for immediate action, then we deliver a plan containing 3-6 months worth of action that builds business while we develop a longer-term strategic plan.

A senior consultant and I had just finished delivering (in my opinion) a well-crafted, cost-efficient Primary Marketing Plan for a client when the Managing Director asked “but where are the drones?”

What he meant was, “where is the silver bullet-style marketing campaign that uses an innovative approach to gaining the attention of our market, neatly explains our offer in a very compelling way and solves all our cash flow issues at once… maybe by making use of drones?”

This, from the Managing Director of a $3m p.a. baked goods distributor whose clients were being chronically underserved and where no new business development was taking place. The company was in a slow, gliding death spiral and couldn’t see how to do things differently.

He and his team had just sat listening to us for an hour, explaining how each problem we had uncovered in the first day-long workshop (15 issues in total) had a solution and how we could use existing internal resources to solve most of them. It would be hard work, we said, but with commitment to changing practices and putting sufficient budget behind each of them, we demonstrated the potential for a change in circumstances.

Here’s an example of one item. In our Primary Marketing Plan workshop we had discovered that the Business Development Manager was trapped in the office telephoning every client, every week, asking them for an order. It was a tactic that had been implemented some time previous as a remedy to a short-term cash flow problem but it had somehow become ingrained as the definition of business development in the company and trained their clients to order via that channel. “If we don’t call them every week, sales will drop,” they said.

“Probably true”, we said, “but if your BDM doesn’t get out of the office to see your existing clients and new prospects and understand their businesses, you’re going to chase a declining number of clients harder and harder for fewer orders,” we argued. “Sales will definitely drop then.”

“Instead, why don’t we add an admin staffer who can do the same work at a much lower rate than we’re paying your BDM and get him out on the road to see new clients?”

So we added that tactic to our 3-6 month Primary Marketing Plan. It was simple and it was going to work.

But after explaining that one and several other fundamental tactics that would turn their fortunes around over the next 6 months, the MD still asked for the silver bullet, seeming to think that there should be just one amazing way to get out of their rut.

How to grow a business is generally not hard to figure out. Committing to taking the right course of action and sticking to it even though it takes more effort than producing a shiny new marketing campaign, possibly involving drones, is the tough part for some.

Sometimes, there’s a forest of opportunity at your fingertips and you just need someone to help you see. If you’re interested in marketing consulting  that makes a real difference rather than just spending your money on another ad campaign that might not work, please call us on 1300 36 20 27 or fill in this form.