The T-Rex Problem of Marketing

That is, some brilliant thinking but very little in the way of positive outcome. Why T-Rex? Well, a very big head, which for the purpose of the metaphor equates to a big brain, and very small arms which metamorphoses as limited execution. Supposedly this had something to do with the disappearance of the beasts. They could see what they wanted to eat but couldn’t catch it (or maybe it was a meteor that did them in, I am never too clear on it). But anyhow it is a useful analogy for some tech marketing which apparently looks great on paper but results show different. Creative marketing certainly can result in effective marketing, but not always.

Is the campaign you have come up with so clever and engaging that you are convinced it is a sure-fire winner? Are you then floored when your CTR is poor and your response rate to the email is way below industry averages? It may be because you have been just a little too clever and tried to get too many messages conveyed in your piece. Perhaps you have assumed some knowledge or expected a level of intellect to understand the messaging which just doesn’t materialize. There can be lots of reasons why the “big head” bit seems so compelling yet it falls way short of its intended results – “the arms being too short”. One of the most common reasons is the lack of real science around the targeting of the content. Has the research been done around whom the target is, what level at which to address them and what stage are they in the buying cycle? An executive can be acting as an adviser in one stage of the cycle, as an amplifier in another and maybe the decision maker in yet another. It is the same person but with a “different hat on” if you will, depending on the stage they are in their process with you. If they are in the awareness phase, a detailed ROI calculation maybe too early and conversely a high level strategy message might be too simplistic in the decision making phase. So the “big thinking” must not stop at the design phase of the campaign, it must permeate the whole campaign cycle. So the “arms” need to be big as well as the “head”.

Of course the reverse can be just bad. You might call this the Labrador problem – not a lot between their ears but will follow you to the end of the earth. A poor metaphor I know, but you might get what I mean. Little upfront thought on the marketing assets but lots of activity. You understand the buying cycle pretty well. You know where a prospect is in the sales cycle but your offer or the assets that contain an offer to engage, is just not compelling. I don’t see this as often as you might think. In well differentiated tech companies, there is usually some great material to work from. Anyway, there are literally thousands of creative agencies happy to relieve you of some budget to come up with wacky and engaging ways of getting a prospect’s attention.

So as tech marketing continues into its fifth decade, I think the focus will be more and more on sophisticated prospect and customer targeting and the overall marketing cycle management. There are a large number of mature tools out there with which to build marketing automation systems, from nurturing prospects through precise message targeting to managing multiple channels for dissemination. There is no excuse not to adopt these – some are open source or subscription-in-the-cloud based. As tech marketing professionals we need to look to move away from the T-Rex approach, avoid the Labrador position and move towards this – the DogCat position – the best of both worlds, big of head and fleet of foot…….