THE MARKETING PARADOX or The Day a Dog Beat Hai Karate and a Hot Car.

ONE SUMMER NIGHT in my 16th year, my best friend Joe Bananas persuaded his older brother to lend him his classic Plymouth Road Runner. It was orange with black racing stripes and had a big engine. Joe put his dog in the back seat and we headed over to Market Street to cruise.
We looked cool in our ride and sounded cool with the music blaring and the engine roaring. Add in a shared bottle of Hai Karate* cologne (Hai Karate…be careful how you use it!), and we were ladies’ men on the prowl. Oh yeah!
Before long, two young ladies from the west side (“West Side is the Best Side”) pulled up next to our car at a red light and smiled at us. For the next several blocks we “car dated” until we finally asked them to meet us at the Black Cow in Boardman.
After we parked at the Cow, the girls came over to get a closer look at the car and talk with us…or so we thought. What they really wanted to do was pet the attractive collie that had her head out the rear side window the whole time. “Ohhhh, she looks just like Lassie,” said the object of my lust. 
Our most effective “social marketing” tool was not the car, our cologne or even our incredible good looks — it was the dog. We would have used the dog from the beginning if we had known that’s what worked.
Likewise, you may not be using your most effective marketing message — simply because you don’t know what that is. Hence the paradox: you would use the most compelling offer — but you haven’t yet discovered it.
Dozens of business owners have told us what messages they believe are best. But often, they’re using a message that is important to them, not the customer. You need to research your customers and your market to be sure you constantly deliver the message prospects are most likely to respond to. ASK customers and prospects what is important. Test it. And keep following that process. Because the best message can change over time.
In this economy, you must get better at marketing your service or product to survive. Focus on the customer experience, developing the most effective message and communicating it well. And remember that part of the message is the media you choose, so choose them with care. Ask, test and ask again.
Make sure you use the dog instead of the car, if that’s what works for your business or organization.
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Stay tuned and stay smart. ##

About The Author

  • Author | George Farris
George Farris is CEO and Senior Brand Coach at Farris Marketing. Email questions and comments to and connect with George on LinkedIn using the icons above.

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