After 35 years of developing and managing advertising, marketing and direct response programs working with literally hundreds of clients in every imaginable industry, there is one plague I can’t seem to shake. The curse of shoestring marketing.
The cracker jack entrepreneur and business-owner who never seem to have the marketing resources to get the job done right raise their ugly heads far too often.
Here are summaries of a couple of communications I had just this week with some nice people with energy-wasting requests.
The gym equipment inventor who made millions of dollars — for others
I got a call when I was out running errands from an inventor who created a piece of exercise equipment most people have seen advertised on TV. His patent had just run out and now he had created a new and better machine he wanted to go to market with and expand quickly before competitors copied the concept and ran off with “his” product.
He was complaining that some DRTV specialists were insisting that he needed around $100-$150,000 for a test run. Of course, this inventor also needs to have inventory laying on the side to deliver the product or do a dry run.
At this point he has very little money and even less product.
He was looking for that magic bullet that costs little to nothing and would make his product famous overnight. You know — the concept that social media and the Internet are free and all you need to have is a little luck to succeed big-time.
All of it costs, of course. Yet, he was not able to spend even $5,000-$10,000 for a test and expansion plan.
Where had all of the patent revenue gone? This inventor spent all of his time and resources creating an incredible invention that nobody knows about. Marketing for him is an after thought.
The discouraged fundraiser
I was speaking with the Executive Director of a fairly well-known non-profit about the need to get professional help to help him attract new donors through direct mail, foundations and several other sources.
He was complaining that his volunteers were burnt out and that there was no money available for professionals.
I asked him why his cause of over 35 years is still struggling with getting real help to magnify the effectiveness of his volunteers. He finally confessed that he could barely get enough money to pay his own salary.
It takes more than a great cause or product to succeed. Marketing or investing never came first with these two in these ventures.
The bottom line
Shoestring marketing does not work. It takes time, talent AND money to grow and sustain operations. Success requires a significant investment in marketing talent and programs.