Myth: If you build a better mousetrap, they will come.

Marketing's Better Mousetrap We've all heard the adage about the better mousetrap and buyers beating a path to the door.  In fact, the U.S. patent office over the years has issued more than 4,400 patents for "better" mousetraps, and my guess is that over my years of owning houses, my choices always seem to come down to two: the old-fashioned, dangerous, lose-your-finger, spring traps and the myriad of make-you-cringe newer glue traps.  4,400 ideas reduced to just a couple of choices and actual buying decisions typically being made in the aisles or on the websites of Home Depot and ACE based on colors, brand names, fonts, images of dead critters, and anonymous reviews citing "better, "faster" and "more humane".   

The actual metaphor about the better mousetrap, (incorrectly attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson btw), was meant to emphasize Emerson's love of innovation, and while he did pen the phrase..."you will find a broad hard-beaten road to his house", he said nothing about mice or mousetraps.  150 years later following Emerson's quote about beating a road to the house, what we know today in the real world of Sales is that nothing sells by itself!

"This will sell itself"

In the business of innovation, entrepreneurship and venture capital, I often hear this phrase thrown about by both young and older first-time entrepreneurs. When I do hear it, and if I'm working with the entrepreneurs either as an advisor or in a professor-student role, I always caution the person who said it that they should drop that phrase immediately.   With very few exceptions, and usually for only brief spurts of time, nothing sells by itself, and as an investor I know that I want to have management explain to me in detail the math and the science of their expected marketing plans. 

Today, I continue to live by Regis McKenna's Rule that "Marketing is Everything" .  I had the good fortune to interview him on stage at a program I was running at MIT years ago.  For me, it was both the simplicity and the technical depth of his insight that took away the mystique and the ambiguity of the confusing definitions I had heard up to that time.  

  • The Spaghetti Definition: "Throw it up on the wall, and see what sticks"  
  • The Wanamaker Definition: "Half the money I spend is wasted; trouble is, I don't know which half"
  • My first head of Marketing: "Jack, we just need to do it; you can't measure marketing".

Marketing is Everything! 

Marketing is Everything !!!

Today, I use the word "Marketing" simply to include all aspects of the business of creating qualified leads from advertising to PR to billboards to brochures, to snail mail to TV and radio, and everything else since at its most simple level, it's all just "marketing".  Taking it one step further on the simplicity level, the sole job of marketing is to create highly qualified leads for Sales to close deals as efficiently and effectively as possible.  Obviously more complicated in actual execution, but too often made more complicated than it really is. 


I then split "Marketing", into two categories largely using the Hubspot definitions since we use Hubspot everywhere in our consulting practice, and it is core to my marketing and sales courses where the students need to be certified in Inbound Marketing before they come to the course. 

Inbound:   Permission Given!
SEO, Blogs, Social, some emails.  "I gave you permission to market to me through a request for content"

Outbound: No Permission
Cold calls, junk mail, and a long list of "everything else" where I received or was exposed to "a message" that was not specific to me as a consumer or as a corporate buyer.  In fact, in 2023, most of us are on track to receive between 4,000 and 10,000 marketing messages a day.   An old stat that I need to redo is that at the end of any given work week, we remember less than 25 of those messages.  

Today, we not only can measure marketing, but we can measure pretty much everything that any marketing campaign produces from a simple clickthrough to more impactful CTAs and other downloads, to interpretations of tones of voice heard and facial expressions seen and recorded through webinars and podcasts to very highly personalized content developed through newer AI tools. Using easy-to-use marketing platforms like Hubspot, we are then able to build sophisticated automated sequencing tools for remarketing using the abilities of marketing interns rather than the coding skills of CS engineers.   

Today, at the beginning of August, I begin the month-long redo of all my content for my Tufts marketing course. Probably 25% of what I taught in last spring's semester is now obsolete and needs to be updated with new metrics and in some cases totally scrapped as being hopelessly out of date.  The HBS marketing case study I've been using through Covid will last one more semester, but then will need to be updated in the spring with something more relative to the economy and probably to the politics of 2024.   I'm also adding in a totally new section on branding which I've not included before. 

Have a great day selling today!

So, as you kick off another great day of sales activities on yet another perfect summa day, think through how you could be improving your sales outreach to make it more specific to selling the value of your products and services by redoing your approach to marketing.  

2023 Marketing PLANNING  

Planning 2023-1For more than a few ideas and real fingers-in-the-dirt details, take a look at our free Writing the Winning Marketing Plan for 2023.  

Or you can just email me, and I'll send you a free copy, and, of course, you can connect with me at any time for questions, comments or just catching up. 


Jack 2023-7Connect with me at any time for some quick ideas and feedback. 

There's never a cost for a call or two, plus I love listening and talking about Sales & Marketing.  
Derby Entrepreneurship Center@Tufts.






Tags: HubSpot Tips, how to write a marketing plan, Making Tough Choices, how to write a sales plan, Derby Entrepreneurship Center@Tufts, Teaching entrepreneurship, 2023 Business Planning, 2023 Sales Planning, 2023 Marketing Plans