Thursday, June 27, 2013

Do you remember building with blocks as a kid? If you could build a tower from a small base, it was very impressive. People took notice. There was a magnificent awe in looking at something so ready to fall, and each step higher magnified that awe. Ultimately, one block too many and it would fall, obliterating all your effort.

If, with those same blocks you built a horizontal configuration, like a village or a landscape, the risk of falling blocks was greatly diminished. You may not have felt an immediate sense of awe, but you were establishing a firm foundation. You could sustain more growth in a wider space, and if one piece fell, it probably wouldn’t take others with it.

Building a solid marketing plan can be like block building. In order to generate immediate enthusiasm and sustainable growth, you often need to find a balance between building too high and building too wide. Where the balance lies depends on the offering, the audience, the timeframe, the budget and you.

The offering:

Promoting a one-time event is quite different from marketing a service business. A one-time event needs to build awareness quickly—high blocks with a small base. It may do well with a barrage of advertising, social media, posters, billboards, direct mail and email campaigns.

A service business needs to create awareness over time. It typically needs to position itself to be found and-or recalled when a decision maker wants their service—low to mid-high blocks with a wider base.

The audience:

If the people you need to reach are young and seeking new technology, you may only have a short window of time to reach them before newer technology is available—high blocks on an expanding base.

If you are marketing healthcare for a region, you want to demonstrate a high level of competency, dependability and establish trust. You want to communicate to your audience continuously and you want to build upon your communications—mid-high to high blocks on wide base.

The timeline:

Some projects are simply started later than they should be. To overcome a shortage of time, a blitz campaign, with creative promotional twist, interruptive advertising, heavy social media and/or a slew of emails in a short span, might make it happen—high blocks with a very small base.

If a campaign is planned with enough time, a well-orchestrated approach can be extremely effective. It may include promotional teasers to whet the interest and build curiosity. The teasers could give way to a reveal and the reveal may evolve into persuasive reasons to buy the product, hire the service or attend the event—wide base supporting ever-higher blocks.

The budget:

A restrictive budget usually means you need to reach the easiest targets first. Guerilla marketing is an old term used to describe an approach where smaller dollars are maximized through personal effort. As resources are limited, choosing a singularly strong approach like distributing flyers, advertising to a small geographical area, or creating an engaging social media group might work best—low to mid-high blocks on a small base.


Your entrepreneurial spirit figures immensely in how wide and high you build. The more confidence you have in your endeavor and the more comfortable you are with risk, the wider and higher you will want to build.

Your ability to balance your blocks as they rise is a significant factor as well.

Building a marketing approach quickly on a small base makes sense for short-term endeavors. Building a marketing approach on a wide base makes sense for committed long-term endeavors.

When marketing their products and services, most businesses need to balance the two, building blocks in a balanced arrangement that facilitates short-term gains and long-term success.