Why the Scattergun Approach Works (and why it doesn’t)

We have all seen the scattergun approach to business – a salesperson does a really good job of selling their solution, process or technology to an executive who gets really excited about implementing something that solves an obvious business problem.

He (or she) sells it to the business and a fairly sizable investment in money and time is spent embedding the wonder drug.

There’s a big hoo-ha when it’s first up and running, and then, one month, two months later – only the most stolid of users are still using it. Everyone else has found a work around – costing more time and money.

At some point everyone, including the lead executive, agrees it didn’t work:

  • “it didn’t meet all their needs”,
  • “they didn’t take the time to implement it properly”,
  • “the employees wouldn’t adapt to it”,

anything but the fact that the executive didn’t properly understand the problem he (or she) was trying to solve, before looking for a magic bullet, not the other way around.

So the process or technology sits in the mind of the company (especially the CFO), employees shake their heads and lose a bit of confidence in management, and life goes on until the next great sales job comes along.

One day, one of these ideas sticks.

Boom! The executive has found the lever to deliver him (or her) the reward they were looking for.

Instead of wondering why this particular series of events has resulted in a positive outcome (in the case of Skinner’s rats, do you think that the rat ever thought about the fact that he was in an experiment?), the executive will gain confidence, and move on to the next thing to deliver him the reward.

Losing most and winning some becomes the company norm.

Better than doing nothing right?

Marketing is an area of business ripe for the scattergun approach.

There are so many ideas, technologies, channels, approaches, messages, audiences, products, services, combinations of all of the above, that without a proper overlay of customer understanding, service and brand proposition, anything could work (and sometimes does).

But there are so many hours in the day and only so much resource (time and money) to make things happen.

The time pressured executive is too busy running around trying anything, caught up in BAU, that he can’t find the time to stop and take stock.

Doing everything becomes the strategy, as it pays off every now and then.

But very few take the time to really understand their business and customers, and focus on what really moves people into, down and around the sales funnel.

So when Barry from InsertMarketingAutomationPlatformHere knocks on the door of Sam the COO’s office, Sam thinks it sounds like a great idea – who wouldn’t want an automated way of spamming sending your customers more emails to remind them that you exist?

Sam gets really excited and thinks this is going to be one of his big wins at impacting on the business and proving his worth. It becomes such a part of his legacy that he goes over top of Sarah the CMO and signs up to the product.

Sarah has a plan to implement a marketing automation platform in the future, (built with her budget and resource in mind), but knows she first needs to build her team to be able to deliver the content the platform needs to run effectively.

Not the other way around.

Sam’s actions, though executed with the best intentions in mind, have now caught Sarah up in his whirlwind of doing over thinking, her team’s focus becomes scattered and they are left scrambling to try and meet expectations.

Not only that, the sales team are nose to ground with account management, so they aren’t able to provide the data needed to make the engine spin.

The finance team are putting pressure on both sales and marketing to make the investment prove its worth, and everyone is waiting on everyone else to do something.

Sam throws up his hands and wonders why people can’t just do their jobs.

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