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Archery Syndrome – it’s a real thing.

Story telling to explain a problem

When trying to explain things to clients I have noticed that I am constantly inventing new analogies to try and help people understand what I am conveying. Adapting each one further and further until a short story can become a few key sentences supported by some images. Which in turn becomes a method to effectively and efficiently convey a message.

Above - think of marketing in a new way, you have one budget "the archer" and multiple targets. How can you be more effective without breaking the rules?

Being a sucker for films most of which are rooted in the wild west, Sci-Fi or historical fantasy (I use the word fantasy loosely as a disclaimer “based on real events some of the story may have been altered for dramatic effect”). Anyway, Archery syndrome has become one of the tools in my metaphorical quiver and I thought it would be worth sharing it with you, both in the long-form and in a simplified manner as well.

Archery Syndrome can be applied directly to Marketing, in all formats for pretty much every product and service that is available to consumers today. It is a condition that is suffered by new businesses and established corporations alike, when ambition to drive sales and success is pushed (usually from the top down) in an effort to have a BIG impact.

Picture this scenario, you are in a castle about to be attacked by a well armed force of chaotic troops, spears glinting in the morning sun, their archers poised and positioned to take aim, mounted knights with horses frothing at the mouth and banners waving in the wind.

You have 30 well trained archers in towers facing your enemy and the battle commences. Of course 30 archers against an army are no real match so you loose.

Below- sometimes the answer to better results isn't to increase your marketing spend, just redirect it more effectively.

Lets try again...

So lets imagine you get to re-run the scenario. You can only use archers to win the battle, so what do you change to be more effective?

Most people will immediately declare “I will use 100 archers”.

But, played out again you still loose. Simply the variety of your opposing forces with their siege weapons and trained men at arms will overwhelm even 500 archers (if you are going suggest more than 500 archers then we have to call into question just how big the castle is).

Next many will suggest more powerful bows, possibly flaming arrows, some people will even resort to trying to convince you that magic exists and that is the solution. But ruling out fantastical magic, acts of spiritual fate, upgrading the bows and even setting some of the enemy alight, none of the options in the scenario will lead to a success except! in the light of some exceptional luck,… luck! So how exactly can the battle be won? Better still how can it be won with a single arrow?

While everything so far might seem very far-fetched, the simple truth is solving the problem outlined is not actually as difficult as it may seem. Most people will look to solve a marketing issue or sales need with volume (more archers) or power (upgraded weapons). While advertising more or paying more for better placement of your marketing material will help, there are far better ways of gaining success and more importantly ones that provide a better return on investment despite the preconceptions a lot of people have.

One possible solution

So going back to the scenario at the beginning of this analogy what is the best method of success? Simply put, by taking the time before the battle commences identifying the general of the army and then firing an arrow (or maybe more, a bow at range isn’t that accurate, at least back then) at him. By taking out the general you remove a key player in the equation and have a much stronger chance of the enemies troops routing. To cover more bases you might take out the general, his standard bearers and any obvious officers. Remove them and you are more effective, less arrows used and less coinage depleted from the coffers of the royal court.

Applying the theory

OK, hopefully you get the picture. But before I turn this article into a medieval fantasy laden tome, it is probably about time to switch to marketing, but it should hopefully have already started to make sense by now.

Now, like no other time before the term marketing has broadened and expanded capitalizing on digital advances. Melding our everyday interactions with social media into a way to sell to a customer, adverting before, during, in-between and after a video, jumping on your screen when looking at something else on a web page, through your letterbox, in your car, on the phone, in your email, on a bridge or even on your watch………. Everywhere!

So how can you focus your marketing to be more effective and what are the best ways of doing more focused (less arrows) and more effective (better targeted) marketing for your business?

Lets explore………..

  • Know your audience.

If your product or service is something a specific type of person is more likely to buy, then find out who they are and where they are. It might sound obvious, but most businesses are too general in their approach. Things like your website analytics and social media statistics can be invaluable here. If your audience is primarily women aged 25-30 who like 1950’s interior décor, then advertising in places and publications that appeal to middle age men with an interest in collecting sports memorabilia is possibly not the most sensible investment.

  • Know your buyer.

While your buyer and your audience will be the same group the buyer is not always one and the same person. Some larger purchases may require two people in a household to make the final decision. Using the same audience as in the previous point, if you are trying to sell to a 30 year old woman, then her partner may also need to buy into the conversation before you can convert your marketing into a sale. You need to tailor your messaging and imagery accordingly.

  • What makes you different?

The world is a busy place full of noise and messaging. Make sure what makes you different from the norm stands out. If you don’t know or have a USP, then consider hiring a brand consultant to help you discover this and develop a strong brand identity and product portfolio that supports and enhances this.

  • Be better!

One thing that is very often the case is that new (and even some older brands) will often subscribe to the “good is enough mantra”. Sometimes the “this will do for now, until we can afford something better” mindset also creeps in. Don’t be complacent, look at what the competition is doing and then do better. Review their website, their advertising, and their products. Ask yourself from a customer’s perspective what would you do better, what would the customer appreciate. Better products come from understanding the customers’ view of the competition, not yours!

  • Strategize.

Now let’s go back to the archery analogy again. It’s no good saying your strategy will be, every time, to aim for the general in the opposing force. What if they wise up to the fact and dress half their cavalry in generals uniforms? Formulate a strategy. Who will your primary audience (targets) be and in what order will you target them. How long will you aim at them, and how will you expand your targeting if your initial efforts don’t work?

  • Contingency plans…

Think about some what ifs, what if something else turns up in front of you that might produce better results? How will you assess if you will switch targets, will you divide your marketing between targets and if so how much can you afford to divert before your initial strategy loses any efficacy?

  • Survey and adapt.

While contingency planning will help, you might not see all possible permutations of change in your field of view. Don’t just set and forget your marketing strategy. Pay attention to how your competition and audience react and change. Adapt and change with it where there is evidence that it is required.

  • Save your arrows.

Sometimes a marketing campaign doesn’t work. Give it time, things don’t happen overnight. But if you can see that there is no effect, then you’ll have to consider that despite your best research and delivery then something isn’t working, so stop. There is no shame in saying, lets spend these arrows on something else while we pause, reflect and adapt. Pause that spend!

  • Don’t wait too long….

If you need help, call up the specialist, stopping for too long means that the competition will get ever closer to the fortress gates. The closer they get the more radical and expensive the solution might become with your marketing needs.

Archery Syndrome is real, don’t let your bowmen (or women) fail

Choose your archers, pick your target, take aim, and make sure that you provide direction for your sales and marketing team. They are trained to fire arrows with extreme accuracy, but only you can help them choose the right targets. If they are expending arrows and not achieving results, it is likely the direction you are providing from the top is not right.

About the Author:

Luke Green works as a brand consultant and product consultant for UK Based Ballistica LTD as well as serving as a Non Executive Director with a variety of companies from various industries. With a long history in the Music industry working with Marshall Amplification he is passionate about ensuring products and services reflecting the needs and expectations

of end users. If your brand wants to explore moving forward, developing or evolving your product portfolio, or perhaps you are looking at launching a new brand to market, then Ballistica can provide a free discovery consultation to establish what could work for you.



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