Marketing that really works can feel like catching the big wave. But how do you get to that euphoric place? Similar to surfing, it’s a lot about being in the right place, at the right time, with the right moves. So many people are “out there” playing at marketing. It can be a very noisy platform from which to try to be heard. Getting to the place where you can ride the wave – and you know when it happens – takes hard work and a deep dive into the organization. Ask yourself if you’ve really done that. Are you making assumptions about what your customers want, what your business needs and how well you are meeting your customers’ expectations? Don’t. Know your numbers, quantify everything. Put, even manually if you have to, reports in place that track your service lines. Follow the money.

Analyze the volume and the revenue, often. Know where it’s coming from. It doesn’t matter how long you stand at the edge of a lake or a channel, you will never catch a big wave there. So ask the tough question, “Am I in the right place?” If not, then move. With regard to marketing, ask the same question. “Am I in the right place?” Make sure you are spending money where your customers actually are seeing/hearing about you. This sounds simple, but it is not. Really know your customer. Again, track everything you do. If you can’t track results to it – then move.

Once you are at the edge of the right beach, assess how many sharks are in the water. Is the competition dividing the market up so much that growth is impossible? Consider what makes you different from the other competitors (sharks, if we are keeping up with the analogy). Find that point of differentiation and make it understandable to your consumer – and desirable. Price and ease won the day in 2014 for many of our clients. What can you do to make it easy for people to find you and benefit from your services? Timing here is everything. For example, breast cancer awareness month is a huge wave of awareness nationally. If you want people to be aware of your services (or your client’s services) related to breast cancer, you have to catch the wave at the break – or the Impact Zone (love that term). That means preparing in July and being out of the gate with your message at the break. For our clients, we found that meant a September 1 launch- not October 1.

So now you are in the right place, at the right time and tracking everything you do. Do you have the right moves? Again, this is about knowing what you are doing, why you are marketing and to whom. Intensive knowledge of your organization (or your client’s organization) will set you ahead of those competitors just making noise. Speak when you have something to say, and then say it consistently. Make sure you are delivering on what you are saying. Do this checkpoint EVERY DAY. Address any break down in service delivery immediately. Make a marketing move that hits your customer square in the place they care about. Once you find your rhythm and gain momentum, then you can have some fun. Step it up a bit. Rip and slash a bit. Be careful not to lose your balance or disrupt the sharks needlessly. Then ride the BIG wave of increased volume and revenue. You can almost smell the sea and salt when it happens. Don’t get too comfortable. That wave is crashing down behind you, so look FORWARD… always looking out over the horizon to the next break.