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4/11/2004

Find best marketing product

By Stacy Cornay
Special to the Times-Call

According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, people see only what they are prepared to see.

As a little girl, I always knew what I was going to see on Easter.

I was going to see more eggs than anyone. I was going to find them and fill my basket to overflowing. Then I was going to sit back and admire my haul. That’s what my imagination prepared me to see.

Reality took the rose color off my glasses. Sure, I had my good years, years when I found the eggs that the Easter Bunny left around my house. But it’s the really big year that I can’t forget. It was the year of the big community Easter egg hunt at a park near my grandparents’ home.

I went brimming with optimism. But, because of a slight scheduling error, I arrived long after the egg scramble started. I found not one single egg. Nada. Zip City. While the tears were drying, a serious family tag-team effort was taking place around me. I was assured that the eggs somehow moved themselves to my grandparents’ house and were back there waiting to be found. Thus I conducted a solo egg hunt. I filled my basket to the brim, but it wasn’t what I had envisioned. There was no admiring crowd to applaud my keen eyes and quick hands. Having all those eggs in one basket just wasn’t what it was cracked up to be.

Marketing is like that. If you put all your efforts into one basket you may end up with egg on your face.

Some individuals are so taken with a marketing technique that they fail to question if that technique is the best one to convey their message. Web sites are a case in point. Initially everyone was rushing to establish a Web site. Now many sites have been abandoned or are poorly maintained. Why? Because the marketing technique did not fit with the target audiences or the messages of the businesses. That one-shot approach was not getting the job done.

So before investing in a basket, first determine what marketing vehicles will work best for you. The ways of getting your message out are as varied as hidden eggs. Which way or ways are best for you can be determined only after you have carefully identified your target audiences, their habits, preferences, attitudes and characteristics. Then you can put your business messages where they will find receptive audiences.

If you’re trying to reach teenagers, advertising in the AARP journal probably won’t be effective. Likewise, the “Blue Moon” crowd of my parents’ era isn’t glued to MTV. The trick is to match audiences to media. Discrete judgments have to be made on every approach from newspaper and electronic media advertising, to Web sites, billboards, direct mail and everything in between. By tailoring your message, several media may be used to reach your audience on multiple fronts.

Marketing budgets also enter into the mix. How much you spend here determines how much you can spend there. Spending everything on one approach always is an all-or-nothing gamble that may pay off, or may leave you feeling like Humpty Dumpty.

Before hippity-hopping off in all directions, ask yourself two questions: Is what I have been doing working? What can I do to make it work better?

Be honest with yourself. The answers will give you the foundation for a sound marketing plan. Don’t hesitate to consult with a communications professional if you want to make sure you’re covering all the bases. That’s why we’re here.

Then be prepared to see what you want to see — a basket full of new business eggs.

Stacy Cornay is owner of Communication Concepts Public Relations & Advertising in Longmont. Her Web site, which contains previous marketing columns, may be found at www.ccpr.cc.