One of my dearest friends was in IT back in the late 80’s. I worked at Marine Midland Bank as a Financial Associate at 140 Broadway. He worked in the World Trade Center.
When I got into Wharton in 1990, I needed to buy my first personal computer. They were expensive! I asked Joe Narciso for advice.
Joe had begun a side hustle with an outfit called Panda Computers. He assured me a Panda was just like a Dell, Compaq, or HP – and it was only $2,000!
I was sold.
(You know where this is going, right?)
The computer had problems. Maddening, productivity-crushing problems.
I called Panda and it became increasingly obvious they were a two-person, poorly equipped reseller. I told Joan about the problems. I called frequently. She knew me by name.
Having exhausted her knowledge, expertise, and resources, she declared the meme-worthy punchline I’d echo for decades to come:
I don’t know what the hell else to tell you, Joseph.
It still makes me laugh: Customer Service was reduced to an equally exasperated 50-something woman.
She didn’t know what the hell else to tell me.
Things are getting very hard, very fast.
Another Marine Midland-era story.
I was part of the Marine Midland FASTPRO program. It was designed to attract college-level graduates who otherwise might consider a more prestigious career across the street at an investment bank.
Indeed, I was among those who wanted a more prestigious investment banking career. I would have taken almost any offer.
It never came.
So there I was at Marine Midland Bank in the Financial Associate Specialized Training PROgram and became fast friends with Tim. We both enjoyed chess and played during lunch sometimes.
We’d go to the MMB cafeteria, bring our lunch back to my desk, eat and play.
We joined a little-known chess club of sorts run by a veteran employee named John. John was a vastly better player.
His catchphrase, when demonstrating how we’d be crushed in three moves, was, “Then things are getting very hard, very fast.”
Things ARE getting very hard, very fast.
Today’s ‘thing’ is medical device marketing in 2019.
Getting attention. Getting attention has gotten very hard, very fast.
Clients ask, “How can we build awareness?” I reply, first you need a value proposition so great it forces your ideal customer to stop what they’re doing and seek more information.
Then we must put the compelling story where they’ll discover it.
Where is that, they ask. But they already know the answers and the associated problems. They’re just hoping I have a better answer.
- Word of mouth. Nothing better. Hard to earn and impractical for most startups.
Trade shows, exhibitions, and sponsorships. Yes, these can be great. And greatly expensive. And risky: How often have you been disappointed with trade show results?
Speaking engagements. Yes, ideal! Who will speak? Will the message educate, entertain, and/or persuade? Will you send a “key opinion leader?” Will the conference host charge you to speak? Will the key opinion leader?
Brochures to leave behind. Sure. Let’s make you nice collateral material. Will they, by themselves, raise awareness? No.
Email. An email from you? If they don’t know who you are, will they open it?
How did you get their name? Research takes time and money. Buying a list takes money. Paying for distribution takes money. And will a cold email be enough to elicit a response?
Web traffic. How will they find your website? Organically, when a search engine calculates yours is the Very Best Answer for their query? You better be a hell of a writer! And prolific. And other sites have linked to your content.
Through paid distribution, buying your way to the top of the search? That can be expensive.
Editorial coverage. Excellent, if you can get it, it’s well written, and your ideal customer reads that publication.
Social media. Are your customers on LinkedIn? If they are, are you connected to them? If you are, how likely is it they’ll see what you put there?
Of course, you could buy your way to the top and pay to promote your message on LinkedIn or Facebook or Twitter – if they will see it there.
Perhaps your customers don’t go there. Where are they? We could ask Katrina, my media planner. How confident are you in social media?
Key influencer marketing. Paid? Earned? Delivered with enough frequency and reach?
Networking. Sure, but it’s not scalable and I can’t do it for you.
Referral programs. For service providers, yes. I don’t know manufacturers who’ve tried them. One way could be a “ride-along” piece of collateral inserted in someone else’s shipment or invoice.
Print. I haven’t had one client in seven years buy a print ad. Anywhere.
Physical mail. I haven’t had one client in seven years do a physical mailing.
Traditional media. I haven’t had one client in seven years use TV, radio, outdoor, or Yellow Pages.
Banner ads. Yeah right.
Something else. Wha’d I forget?
Well, Joe, what do you recommend?
Well, let me ask you: Which of the above gives you the most confidence?
Because those are the choices. None guarantee success. None are easy.
And I don’t know what the hell else to tell you.
My new favorite photo
Taken yesterday. Twelve years after this photo.
This marketoonist cartoon. A timely cartoon from the author of “Your Ad Ignored Here.”
This short Onion video. U.S. Healthcare Administrative Costs by the Numbers.
Thank you for joining me on The Journey.
A happy and safe holiday 🎄 to you,
P.S. Are you doing anything special between now and New Year’s? Write back and tell me! 😊