Look before you leap

Marketing is intriguing, be it the prospect of developing creative, strutting your stuff, driving some sales or taking down the competition. Our clients get excited when it comes to getting into action! We get excited too. But before you jump headlong into your brilliance there is work to be done. Slow down. We find that clients want to focus on what their competitors are doing and then react. First, look at the big picture. Before you do anything consider what is going on the marketplace – the economy, major trends, politics, and the culture. If you don’t, all your efforts may be for not. There are many well documented studies identifying the pitfalls of not doing your homework. The Chevy Nova in Latin America, Totes in Germany or this haunting story:

A large, multinational corporation once attempted to sell baby food in an African nation by using packaging designed for its home country market. The company’s regular label showed a picture of a baby with a caption describing the kind of baby food contained in the jar. African consumers took one look at the product, however, and were horrified. They interpreted the labels to mean that the jars contained ground-up babies! – Harvard Business Review, 1984

Taken to a local level we saw a company jump at the opportunity to open a wine and cheese shop on the border of a dry town. Sounded like a great opportunity! But the company didn’t do its homework. The highway the store was on was changing their traffic patterns and installing a traffic light that no longer allowed for a U turn in front of the store. Now the patrons would have to drive over a mile to turn around. To make matters worse there was a big box liquor store at this turn around. The new liquor store didn’t have a chance. They invested in marketing, but no amount of advertising or customer service could save them. The entrepreneur had not done their homework.

In short, you need to look at the economy, legislation, even language. If not, you could end up with a problem like one that Ford had. They began selling the Pinto in Brazil and sales were terrible. They did a study to find out why, only to discover that Pinto was slang for tiny male genitals. Ford responded by prying the nameplates off of the cars and changing them to Corcel which means horse. If Ford had done their homework, they could have been the stud they had intended.