But what does this have to do with your marketing?
The essence of interference is that it hampers having a clear signal, and so interference in one’s business activities can hamper a clear focus. This is especially true in marketing.
A shop owner is bombarded daily with unsolicited sales calls, advertising proposals and requests for contributions of all sorts. Like a repetitive commercial on radio or TV, the constant drumbeat of an ad or jingle may finally wear down your resistance (and common sense) and convince you to buy the service or product. The problem with this is it detracts from the funding and energy you may have planned for a strategic marketing program, if you already have one. And it can interfere with having a clear focus if you are just trying to develop an effective marketing strategy.
Most of the time, these unsolicited sales calls and advertising proposals are attempts to nail down a long-term contract of some sort. This interferes with one of the most basic of all marketing tenets: “When pursuing an untried marketing initiative, before committing to it long-term, TEST, TEST, TEST.”
Professional marketers are nearly religious about doing test markets before committing real money to a program. Statistically, probably nine out of ten test markets don’t produce as expected. Ad people are constantly tweaking words, images, and media to see what gets the best response. While a shop owner is rarely in a position to do numerous test markets, he or she can try a program for 30, 60, or 90 days to see if there is any response at all—and also to see if the response justifies the investment.
Random proposals coming from unsolicited sources may at first seem to offer a test period, but the very nature of most of them is to try to sidestep serious testing. They almost always go for a long-term commitment.
It’s interesting that most shop owners and managers will set a test period for a newly hired technician, leaving themselves the option to reject the tech if he doesn’t work out, but they may sign up for an expensive marketing program with no similar rejection clause. This would be my first crap-detection suggestion: Demand a carefully defined, time-limited termination clause.
In our industry perhaps the worst of these are programs that offer referral business. Without naming program names, perhaps you have subscribed to a program I’ve encountered that requires a substantial upfront investment and perhaps the purchase of an alternative estimating system. I’ve noticed in numerous shops that subscribed to it, there were several referrals in the beginning but after the fees were paid and the contract nailed down, the referrals became few and far between. Shop owners seem to find it hard to resist the offer of referred business and often lack the time to do a thorough check to see if the program is really legitimate and works as promised.
Like static on a radio that we tune out when we’re absorbed in handling the multitude of tasks required to run a shop, we may not really notice the interference of the perpetual ads and promotions bombarding us through mail, publications, e-mail, websites and live sales calls.
But this interference does prevent — not only a clear marketing focus, but also possibly a clear production focus. We accomplish the most when our attention is laser-like concentrated on a task.
Just normal interruptions break our concentration and slow down our productive efforts. But when you add in the constant din of promotional chatter, you may have significant interference in your marketing and management focus.
Telemarketers will rarely stay on the line if a phone isn’t answered after three rings. Perhaps one policy that could reduce the promotional interference would be to postpone or reschedule random marketing solicitations, even if you’re remotely interested.
That would test the seriousness of the solicitor, and it would also give you time to rethink your interest and consider the possibility that this may just be some more interference static.
Every bit of random interference you can eliminate from your work day will pay off in vastly more effective marketing and management strategies.