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The Curse of the One-Off Marketing Tactic

I am so adamantly opposed to the one-off marketing tactic, that when I do pricing on proposals, I price the single deliverable such that no one would ever select it.

I know that there are others out there who would be more than happy to provide the one-off – but I can’t do it because too many times I have seen business owners, desperate to make the marketing problem (empty pipeline) go away, and scratch out a check for $2500 – $5000 for a one time campaign (yeah, sure, it might have three phases to it) that ends up yielding nothing at best, garbage leads at worst.  Garbage leads are worse than no leads because you waste time investigating only to find that they are garbage.

In my book it’s unethical.  I probably could have seen an extra 30% in revenue last quarter had I agreed to creating one-offs, but I just can’t do it in good conscience.  I know better.

Marketing is a regimen not an event.  I am a brick-layer. I don’t pull rabbits out of hats.  I want to make sure that what is being executed fits into an overall strategy and pays long-term dividends.  Long after I’m gone, my clients will still be reaping the rewards of well thought out content creation that worked from the minute it was published and will continue to work for them long after I am out of the picture.

Identify your market.  This involves the wide net, every one you could potentially sell to, and then narrow focus, those who are most profitable to sell to.  Begin with the narrow focus – segment that list.  What are their pain points?  How do you address their need?  The answer to these questions points to what your lead generation messaging should be as well as what types of articles your blog should include.

Understand your market is shopping in a new way.  Today they are searching online.  Do you appear in their search?  If they are finding you through search – when they arrive at your website are they guided to information that addresses their questions?  Are they learning more about you solution in a way that is meaningful for them?  Are you answering questions like “How should I conduct my search?” “What all should I consider when deciding on a solution?” “How do I make sure that we implement solution in a way that fosters adoption and enthusiasm?”

Are you addressing the questions that are rarely articulated “Will I be fired or suffer politically for making this choice?”  Do you have success stories of customers who faced the same business challenges who not only solved the immediate problem but also enjoyed additional benefits as a result of selecting your products and services?

Do you provide the milestones of selection process done thoughtfully?  There is so much more than just the initial purchase price.  Will the solution be implemented correctly?  What is the total cost of engagement – because support and maintenance are so crucial to long term effectiveness and day-to-day efficiency of operations.

Brick by brick.  It may not sound glamorous –but it delivers what the prospect is truly searching for.  And if captured in quality content – it delivers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Don’t squander your marketing dollars on the one-off.  Invest your marketing dollars in the long term development of a round the clock marketing engine.

6 Responses to The Curse of the One-Off Marketing Tactic

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dawn Westerberg and Dawn Westerberg, Duncan Campbell. Duncan Campbell said: RT @BizSugar The Curse of the One-Off Marketing Tactic | Dawn Westerberg Consulting LLC http://bit.ly/dOJxSp […]

  2. Wayne Schulz says:

    One-off engagements are usually not profitable — however long term relationships are usually very profitable (to both parties).

    On the support side we’ve seen a lot (98%) of people using the web to search for help – who want to purchase a one-shot answer to a tough problem (if the problem were easy — why would they call?)…

    Ok, actually they claim they’ll pay — but my experience is they’re almost always looking for you to give them a freebie.

    The favorite way they eek these freebies out is in the guise of the conference call with half their office.

    During the call they’ll ask open ended questions (“is this possible?”) where they hope you’ll solve their problem for free or give them a major push in the right direction.

    It’s an uncomfortable situation to provide pricing to a suspect and relay the concept that you don’t do the “one off” — in a way that doesn’t seem to come across as condescending. You’ll also find that the majority of the time once you explain the way you do business that the prospect disappears without so much as a thanks.


    • Dawn says:

      Hi Wayne, thank you for commenting. I understand what you’re saying about possibly coming off as condescending. It is immensely uncomfortable. I think there are marketing people who have given marketing a bad name by doing the one-off. I don’t blame them 100% because often they are just bending to the will of the client. So I’ve resigned myself to being the one who administers the tough love – and you’re right – I never hear from them again. I’m hopeful that down the line when the umpteenth one-off fails to do anything – they’ll remember what we talked about and that at least it wasn’t me that took them down that path.

  3. Wayne Schulz says:

    One of the things that HAS worked well for handling these one off requests who learn of the way we do business and then are never heard from again — is to always capture their email and contact information.

    Since I’m already putting out an email newsletter monthly — I have no additional cost to put that person into the distribution list and drip market to them.

    People would be surprised how often someone on that list will call in 6 month to 2 years when their situation changes (usually after they’ve tried and failed to use a low cost provider).

    The best source of good clients is those people who’ve been burned by a bad consultant.

    People who come to me who have been on my email newsletter list for at least 6 months are usually about an 80% close rate (and not one off) and tend to remain clients for a longer period of time.

  4. Ed Kless says:

    Great post, great comments! I have nothing to add except to say thanks for allowing me to observe your thoughts on this.

  5. stuart says:

    The bricklayer term makes sense. I tell people I’m a “grinder” – from poker terminology.

    Overpricing the ‘one-off’ is kind of an odd strategy, though I recall a fancy sandwich restaurant charging $100 for a PB&J since they were sick of parents asking for these for their kids. You want one, fine. But pay us $100.

    Our strategy is that we require clients to pay us to do some strategy work (we call it ‘mapping’) before we even bid on other work. This way they see that the best solution is not lipsticking the pig, but creating real structure. If they are looking for lipstick, then they need to move along. And I agree with you that marketers who sell lipstick – especially those that know it’s not a real solution – are damaging the word ‘marketing.’

    Finally, I really like your tagline.

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