The Yin & Yang of Marketing – Are your efforts in balance?
In Eastern philosophy yin yang represents the concept of duality. Two halves working together toward wholeness and harmony. It’s the dance of opposites — where seemingly contrary forces are actually complementary.
Like marketing strategy and tactics.
“Wholeness” — ie optimal results — is only achieved when you strike that delicate balance between the two. When the marketing tactics flow naturally from the brand strategy.
If your marketing efforts are predominantly tactical, without adequate strategy, you’ll be throwing money at ill-conceived tactics. Ready, fire aim!
If your marketing efforts are tipped the other direction, you’ll spend all your time preparing, planning and aiming, without pulling the trigger.
When you employ both halves of the marketing equation you can touch a glorious chord of emotion while still employing a data-driven strategy. It’s old-school story telling balanced with new technology and analytics.
Right-brain creativity with left-brain analysis. Yin and yang. Marketing strategy and tactics. One cannot live without the other.
All marketing programs are a mix of strategy and tactics, but most small business owners gravitate heavily toward the tactical side of the equation. They forego the strategy part for several reasons:
• Because they can’t do it themselves or they don’t understand it.
• Because they perceive it as being too expensive.
• Because they don’t have time… too many other things to do.
• Because they don’t see the value in it.
They skip the most important step to save a few bucks, but then dump a lot of money into ill-conceived tactics.
They use social media specialists and graphic artists to produce content. They purchase TV time and digital ads. They produce videos for YouTube and run radio ads, but there is no thread of continuity. No consistency of voice or message. No strategic platform from which to work.
Therefore, the effectiveness of each tactic is compromised.
Let’s look at some of the opposing, yin yang elements of any good marketing program:
Inward vs. Outward
Many businesses are too inwardly focused when it comes to marketing.
Instead of addressing the needs, wants and emotions of their prospects, they talk about themselves and their industry. It’s all me, me, me, me, with a bunch of jargon thrown in for credibility purposes.
Not only that, outward facing marketing tactics and messages are often out-of-balance with the internal operation of the company. The ultimate success of your brand doesn’t hinge on what the marketing people say, it hinges on what you actually do. When you do great things, effective marketing messages are much easier to come by.
So what are you doing internally that your marketing department could build a strategy around?
If you want your marketing strategy and tactics to balance, you can’t underestimate the influence of feelings. You have to balance intellect and emotion.
Many business owners operate as if cold, calculating characters like Spock make all the buying decisions. They line up the spreadsheets, produce some charts and graphs, and expect facts and data to do all the work. But it NEVER does.
The latest brain research — fMRI testing — proves that emotion co-mingles with reason, even in rigorous business-to-business purchasing decisions. In fact, many studies show it’s emotion that triggers action.
As one writer put it, “emotion is in the Oval office while the rational brain is in the press center, justifying the decisions that have already been made.”
Trust is not a rational thing. Trust is a feeling. And it’s trust that builds brand loyalty.
Simon Sinek says it succinctly, “Most companies are quite adept at at winning minds; all that requires is a comparison of features. Winning hearts, however, takes more work. That starts with WHY. People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.”
Fast vs. Slow
Some tactics need to get done quickly. For instance, social media posts are often very time sensitive, so there’s not much consideration for craftsmanship.
Promotions are also short-term. TV commercials or print ads, on the other hand, demand careful attention to detail, so you need to leave time to do it right. Branding is a long-haul play.
Strategy also takes time and thoughtful consideration. Strategic issues arise when the strategy is rushed to accommodate the tactical to-do list. Confusion and credibility issues arise when the tactics are produced in a vacuum, with no strategic guidance. All yang, and no yin.
Positive vs. Negative – Pain vs Gain
Some marketers believe that you should never mention anything negative in your advertising. Always stick to a rosy picture of positivity, they say.
But there are some strategic situations that demand a negative approach to execution. Sometimes it’s simply stronger to refer to someone else’s weakness than to talk about your own strengths. Sometimes the fear of loss is more powerful than the prospect of gain.
Take the insurance business, for example. Nobody buys insurance for the positive experience of it. We buy it to avoid catastrophic loss. Allstate’s campaign with the mayhem man capitalizes on that brilliantly. It touches on the pain of loss, without being negative. It’s the perfect use of humor.
The yin & yang of competition is often the most poignant and effective approach for campaigns. All great brands have arch enemies. Coke has Pepsi. McDonalds has Burger King. Apple has Microsoft. Don’t shy away from that just because you’re afraid of offending someone.
Better to offend some, than be invisible to everyone.
That said, you can’t have a marketing campaign that’s completely negative, all the time. Especially in small town. It’ll probably come off as snarky.
So if you decide to leverage the pain points of not buying, you should also mix in a nice balance of messages about the prospective gains of buying. For Allstate, the creative angle touches on pain, but the takeaway is positive: “Dollar for dollar, nobody protects you from mayhem like Allstate.”
Masculine vs. Feminine
A comedian once said that women make 80% of all the decisions — and they have veto power over the other 20%.
Keep that in mind when you’re working on tactics, planning your strategy and building a brand. Women remember things! And they’ll attach very strong emotions to those memories, so you better not piss them off.
On the other hand, if you show genuine empathy, and make them feel good, they’ll be great brand ambassadors for you. And don’t forget… Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram skew heavily toward women.
Sight vs Sound
The latest research in neuroscience has proven that our sense of sight is unreliable. Humans simply don’t remember very well, those things that we see. That’s why “eyewitness” testimony is so unreliable for trial lawyers.
On the other hand, what we hear is retained, repeated, and embedded in our brains forever.
“Plop, plop, fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is.”
“Mmmm, mmmmm good.”
“Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.”
“Where’s the beef?”
Forty years gone and I can still name every brand associated with those words.
What words are you using? Do you give every word as much consideration as every picture, or are you letting the SEO Google nerds dictate what you say?
fMRI data proves that echoic memory is much more reliable than iconic memory. In other words, a good soundbite is worth way more than a thousand pictures.
In this age of pop ups, pay per click ads and social media campaigns that are always viewed in silence, many advertisers are neglecting the most powerful sense of all… the sense of hearing. If you ignore sound, you’re missing more than half of the equation.
Style vs Substance
Many clients I’ve worked with believe these two are mutually exclusive… That you can’t have substance and style mixed together into the same marketing message. That you can’t have “brand” ads that also trigger a response.
They rely on the physical, factual reality of their product or service, and ignore what really matters: Perception!
The credibility of your message hinges on the style in which it is delivered. It doesn’t matter how many facts you can stack up, if they’re not presented in a way that’s perceived as credible, they’ll be useless. That means the facts have to be packaged up in a way that’s relevant and memorable.
Substance hinges on style.
Yin Yang is not static. Neither is your marketing.
The nature of Yin Yang flows and changes with time. So does your marketing. Sometimes it’s stop and go.
Some initiatives are purely tactical, while others are more strategic. Factors outside your control can change your strategy completely or rob you of tactics that you once counted on.
The seasonal nature of most businesses means that tactics may be bunched heavily into one time of year, while planning takes place another. Not only that, goals can change dramatically from one year to another. So you can’t just upload the same marketing plan year after year and expect it to work. You can’t keep running the same ads on the same shows or websites.
The balance point is always shifting. Hot & cold. In and out. Yin and yang. Enlightenment is achieved only when marketing strategy and tactics come together.
If you’re wondering about your own balance point, give us a call. Let’s start a conversation about your brand. We can provide a thorough, unbiased yin yang assessment of your strategy and your tactics. 541-815-0075.