Marketing Mixers May Need a Cooking Lesson

Lately my boyfriend and I have been getting into cooking. Nothing terribly fancy just yet, but we’ve been cooking homemade meals every night for a couple months now.

Whenever we select a new recipe, I try to read a few reviews and get a sense of what worked and what didn’t from others. Maybe the peanut butter flavor was too overpowering. Sometimes others recommend cooking for a shorter period of time to prevent burning. And many times, I’m left on my own to guess what will taste best.

These recent experiments got me thinking about those of us in charge of building marketing mixes. For the vast majority of brands and companies, throwing all eggs into one basket is a bad idea. We know that, and we know that using just the right mix of channels and tactics is the key to success.

If you think it’s impossible to determine what is really working and what’s not, think about how you cook. If you make a new recipe, and it tastes a bit salty, what do you do the next time? You probably add less salt. How much less? That depends on your past experience.

After cooking enough times, you may realize that if you’re making a pot of chili, for example, adding a pinch less salt doesn’t make much difference. Cutting the salt in half may also be too much. You learn a happy medium along the way.

You guess and check over time. And you intuitively apply what you learn from one recipe to all others. If you notice you like less salt in a pot of chili, you may choose to reduce the salt in the next soup you make, too.

Now apply this thinking to a marketing mix. You may notice for one particular campaign focused on driving awareness that using Twitter helps more folks remember your message. For the next campaign, you may decide to shift more resources to Twitter. If you shift too much, you may see a drop in your results. So you shift resources back to other channels and tactics.

Over time, you would have an arsenal of knowledge that would allow you to build better campaigns.

The difference will be focusing on different metrics of success. Instead of focusing on how something tastes, you will focus on different measures: how many folks remember your message, how many folks sign your petition or how many consumers use a coupon to try your new product.

Don’t lose sight of how you measure success, but don’t always worry about getting it exactly right the first time. If the recipe didn’t turn out just so the first time, do you stop cooking? Of course not. You add a bit more milk or sugar and less salt, and you try again.

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