I’m not a marketing guy at all, just an average Joe trying to make his mark in life. I help people though, and I guess I’m good at that, but every now and then something hits me upside the head and gives me a halfway decent thought. Today I’ve decided to do a little post on marketing, because quite frankly, I’m a little fed up with what a lot of the “smart people” are telling me about marketing my business online. This is also applicable to everyday life, so if you’re here for that, this post is for you too.
Anyway, the story goes a little something like this: the Mrs. and I went one Saturday to a big box store. You know the type: you by 25lbs of sugar because its cheaper to do that than buy the lousy 5lbs they give you at the grocery store. Same thing goes for virtually every other product they sell you. Nothing small, always big. On our list was coffee, and we needed it in a big way! Just so you know, I would be considered a coffee addict. I have a cup when I wake up in the morning, and I have a cup or two at work.
Also little known fact: big box stores tire the hell out of me. I don’t know if its the really high warehouse ceilings, or the rows and rows of isles filled with stuff, or the dirty floors you can skate on if you have the right shoes…but something about them makes me really tired. Well, when we hit that coffee aisle, I couldn’t have been more encouraged!
There they were in their giant orange plastic bags: 10lbs of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee! Moreover, my wife exclaimed that she had a coupon for said coffee! Bonus! Overwhelmed by the enticing aroma of coffee, we greedily snatched a bag, threw it in our cart, and sped to the register.
When we got home, I ripped that bag open, sloshed some water into the coffee maker and immediately made a fresh pot of coffee. Ah, exlixir of life! It was delicious, but somehow we were still tired. We chalked it up to a long day and took a nap.
Now we went to the store specifically because she was going to school all week and we wanted to be prepared. So the first morning she goes off to school, I got about 6 hours sleep, but I made the coffee and sent her on her way. Later on, I went off to work, and at around noon I had a wretched headache. I chalked it up to getting very little sleep and cursed the new schedule. I stomached through my clients and figured I would just go to bed early and make sure I got enough sleep this time around.
Next night, got 8 hours sleep. Same routine: go to work, splitting headache. This new schedule really is handing out the beatdowns! A few days later, I finally go through a day without headaches, so I figure I must have gotten my sleep schedule on target.
So we go on for a few weeks having coffee in the morning, but we notice that when we headed out to work, we were both drained. We figured it was the weather, because for the last few weeks, it had been raining almost every day. Here in New England, people get Seasonal Affective Disorder all the time, so we figured it was our turn to be bummed because of the weather.
Then one day I go about my routine and make the coffee. Only today, I did something a little different. I read the label. Just for the heck of it. And there it was in bright pink letters.
For the last month, my wife and I had been drinking decaf coffee, without even knowing it. Moreover, we bought the coffee in our desire to wake up from our day. We were so caught up in trying to get what we wanted that we didn’t even take the time to read the label carefully enough. After all, only an idiot like me would buy Decaf Coffee (could someone please tell me what the purpose of decaf coffee is, because I have yet to understand it) and not intend to. (By the way, the wife didn’t get headaches because she packed Starbucks Mochas with her, so her caffine intake was just fine.)
Not only did we not believe we made a mistake, but we blamed everything under the sun BUT the coffee! We thought it had something to do with the sleep schedule, the weather, just being busy in general. We were so convinced that we made the right choice in coffee, that we didn’t even factor it into the equation.
So aside from the fact that I’m a complete moron, there’s a moral in here somewhere:
1. If something isn’t right, it might be because YOU made a mistake. Its so much easier to blame other things than it is to blame ourselves and the dumb choices we make. Don’t be so confident in your choices that you end up kicking yourself down the road. Be sure you are making the right choices for your life or your business, and if it isn’t producing the result that you want, then you may need to do something different.
2. Carelessness can create far reaching consequences. If I had taken just a couple more seconds to read the label, I would have saved myself from days of headaches that didn’t need to be there. I also would have been a lot more alert for my clients and I likely would have been a better counselor to people (try being empathic when you feel like you have a knife in your skull). Careless choices can cost you time, money and effectiveness.
3. Get all the details on a “great deal.” It might look good, and sound good, but it may not be what you want or need. Remember that any great deal is only there to sell product. We fell into the marketing hook, line and sinker. We needed coffee, they had it, and with a coupon! They sold us coffee, which is what they were trying to do to begin with.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, be careful, and know what you’re getting yourself into, especially with your business. Advertising is of course, a crap shoot, but other than that, understand the time or money demands on a project before you get into it. If you don’t know, there are plenty of people who do, so ask around. Also, ask people to critique your stuff. Maybe you think its totally awesome, but that’s because you like yourself and believe in yourself (all good things mind you). However, getting some constructive criticism can prevent those far reaching consequences.
Life is the same way. You may think you’re making all the right choices, but something doesn’t seem to be right, and no matter what, you end up with bad results. You’re miserable, but you’re not sure what you have to do to make things better. So try something different, and take a look at what you could be doing wrong.
Don’t be stupid like me. Discover what you might be doing wrong, and fix it before the headaches ensue.