The problem is actually making the marketing choices!

Discussing marketing is fun, until we need to decide...

"Discussing" Marketing is exciting, challenging and lets our brains run least that is until we need to make the choices of what we need to do in order to move ahead.  And today, given the hundreds of both strategic and tactical choices available to us in both Sales and in Marketing, the task often seems to be overwhelmingly difficult.  Actually, that's not the case compared to making choices about...for instance...milk.  

Back in the day, there were basically two choices:  pasteurized and non-pasteurized, so this week in exploring the milk aisle at Market Basket below,  I counted 26 different types of milk, not manufacturers, but actual categories of milk.  Plain old, normal "milk" was manufactured by four different companies, which complicates the choice making exponentially from the baseline of the 26 categories.  Categories ranging from 1%, 2%, fat-free, skim, ultra-filtered, organic-reduced fat, ultra-pasteurized, grass, organic protein, lactose free-both 1% and 2%, chocolate and chocolate lowfat, oat and oat vanilla, soy and soy vanilla, rice, flax, almond, and organic coconut in three different flavors.  

How to make Marketing ChoicesMilke2


And don't get me started on creamers, half & half and another 8 categories of things that one adds to coffee...not including the most simple...which, course, would be what?  Milk!

marketing Milk is wicked complex


Whoopi Got Milk How to make Marketing ChoicesAdd to this obsession with milk, non-milk and "looks-like-milk", the background of the iconic Got Milk Ad Campaign begun in 1993, clearly one of the best examples of memorable taglines...right up there with Nike's "Just Do It". 

Marketing plain old milk is complex, and a perfect example is Vermont, which was one of the major providers of milk (you've heard that age-old phrase "there are more cows in Vermont than people", which was true up to the 1970s). 

Milk production was steadily decreasing everywhere so the federal government stepped in with what it does best...providing subsidies...and artificially propped up the price for milk farmers, which resulted in the same farmers flushing millions of gallons of milk into drains every week since the real problem was that there was no demand.  People just got tired of drinking milk.  

Hired by the California Milk Processors Board, in steps the ad agency of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, who created the entire Got Milk Campaign which had solid success for a while, but milk is wicked complex.  While 80% of the U.S. recognized the phrase of "Got Milk", and the campaign continued for 20 years, sales did not increase.  Technically, they did but only by 2% for a couple of years with, not surprisingly, California leading the list of states, but overall sales in the U.S. remained flat.   Add to this the ongoing complexity of where milk fits on to the slider scale of decreases in cardiovascular health and increases in obesity, and the only answer is "it depends".  Vitamin and minerals on the good side, and saturated and trans fats on the bad.   

Some takeaways for making marketing choices:

  • Marketing popularity is not necessarily sales effectiveness. 
    20 years later, milk sales decreased, but choices of alternatives increased by three, maybe five categories to 50.  Sales decreased! Dairy farmers went out of business by the thousands!
  • There's no future in "hoping" for increased sales; take action based on the numbers!
    If planned sales do not increase over time, simply turn the marketing dial-either stop or more.
    The fact that the campaign carried on for 20 years was due to federal subsidies not results!
  • Don't guess, test and measure all the time.  
    Use static surveys, Voice-of-Customer interviews, focus groups continuously
    Bottom line, consumers did not like plain old milk! 
  • Make the decisions now.
    Might be a decision to wait until a specific date or number, but never "let's wait and see".

Good News & Bad:

I love marketing and sales tech, any tech!  Platforms or apps that save me time in the meshing worlds of Sales and Marketing technology.  With hundreds and hundreds of solutions available today, in a word, decisions are not only difficult, but often confrontational. Egos get rubbed raw when Sales pushes on Marketing for more "good" leads, and not "those old worthless" leads.   

I've closely watched this landscape explode over the last decade as more and more companies want to cut, chop, and slice their sales and marketing data with more and more finite tools tracking prospects and customers down to the N of 1.  



Me?  I want simple & seamlessly integrated!  

Hubspot Flywheel-2-1I want one large, but flexible CRM which is tightly integrated into my marketing toolbox all of which lives on one platform which is hosted by the same company.  Which is why we use and promote Hubspot and have done so for a decade.  Everything ties perfectly together into one flywheel. This blog for example uses the Hubspot blogging tool which is where I go to write, edit, count and see reported the results in real time across a database of 19,000 subscriber all run by one marketing intern.  If you want to learn more, just connect with me at anytime to kick around a few ideas.   Check it out here, and connect with me at any time.    



Have a great day selling today...and a great weekend!

If you're interested in how to plan for a very impactful May and a dynamic end to the quarter, click HERE for our just updated Writing the Winning Sales Plan in 2021. 

Jack Derby, Professor & Sales Coach


If at any time, you have a need for a confidential sounding board for Sales or Marketing, just connect with me at any time. 

Text or email me, and I'll quickly set up a call.  I'm a pretty good listener, and we can get deep into tactics if you want. 

Obviously, no cost for a call or two; just an opportunity to listen intently and make a few recommendations based on decades of experience.






Tags: marketing effectiveness, marketing management, Tufts marketing projects, how to write a marketing plan, Making Tough Choices, marketing planning, sales management productivity