My childhood home is a healthy nine-hour drive from where I and my family currently live. It’s in the mountains of West Virginia where my grannie raised me (in the very cool little town, Lewisburg). We make the trek there just twice a year to visit and catch up.

Something hit me during this last visit and maybe you can relate if you have a grannie who shares some of the same philosophies on commerce and quality as mine.

My grannie’s philosophy: What’s on sale goes in the cart, regardless of value (quality of ingredients or materials, flavor, expiration date, etc.).

Oreo’s are just Oreo’s.  Regardless if they’re really Fake-eo’s.

*Butter is just butter. Regardless of how fake it is.

*Coffee is just coffee. Regardless of the logo (or process).

*(Grannie has got to think I am so ungrateful when I opt for something other than the stuff that never goes bad/is made of plastic, or venture downtown to the coffee shop instead of partaking of either the instant coffee or the 2-year-old product reserved just for our visits)

I must admit, I didn’t have the most wholesome of eating habits growing up.  I do love my grandma but her philosophy on food was: Food is food. Regardless of the means or processes of bringing the food to the store. Or regardless of what the food is (fruits = pudding = cookies = filet mignon = spinach). It didn’t matter. If you ate something, at least there was some nourishment to have been absorbed.

I just didn’t have much self-awareness of this as a child.

But now that we’re all grown up, we (my family) have our own buying preferences. We’ve developed our own habits of what we do and what we prepare to eat.  And they wildly differ from my grannie’s preferences.

Aside from that epiphany, it’s still always good to travel; Grannie doesn’t have internet so the visit really forces me to unplug some.  I get to catch up on some professional reading, perusing some industry-related articles that I wouldn’t ordinarily take the time to do.

So I was reading one of those articles from a familiar author who had just hosted a Webinar I had attended just days ago (so I felt like I knew him, and trusted the stuff he would say), on the topic of SEO.   To paraphrase the article: “Here are 6 ways to blow your SEO budget – so don’t think for a second that all SEO solutions are created equal.”

This nice statement jumped out at me: “…Services like [cheap, low quality, shady SEO services] lead uninformed business owners to believe paying $500 a month for local SEO is outrageous. …do not think it is anywhere close to being a real SEO service.”

There it was. Proof that there are others on the planet who share the same philosophies on SEO as my grannie would: “Product/Service A = Product/Service Z” (where the 24 variants between A and Z vary in price, quality, demand, elasticity, scope, value – just general ROI.

My Grannie doesn’t recognize the difference in most products. She might a little. But the difference between various products are not so profound to the point where she feels it necessary to pay a premium on most of them.

In her defense, that’s not entirely true with everything; there are some products and services that she will fork over a premium to enjoy, even if the enjoyment is simply “peace of mind.”  She specifically will do this with someone she has some sort of business relationship with to perform the service (like installing an appliance, mowing the lawn, or car maintenance and repair) – which will be great discussion for later…

But how about Marketing as one of these services?  How many out there think:

  • Online ads are all the same… regardless of the targeting, tracking and money savings.
  • A mailer is just a mailer (Same postage, right?), regardless of the strategy and targeted copy.
  • All words are equal… regardless of the tested strength of headlines or market research backing their origins.
  • Video is just video… regardless of the entertainment value or story that warms up viewers to like and trust you.

Here’s what anyone interested in a successful marketing strategy should know:

There are no shortcuts.

Boy getting his first hair cutSuccessful and rewarding campaigns take work!  That’s it.  Roll-up-your-sleeves-and-dig-in work.

There’s got to be an appropriate amount of research before you can even think about beginning to produce anything – because no one knows anything without it.

What kind of research?

There’s lots to research – keywords, competitors, competitors’ keywords, similar industry websites, the copy found on companion-business sites, on and on.

But if you don’t know what makes your patients and clients tick, you don’t know jack! You’re guessing. And guessing can be expensive.  How do you learn what makes them tick?

Our method?

Talk to them. Yep. It’s really that simple.  Pick up the phone and talk to them.


Imagine writing copy about your organization.  Now… imagine writing copy to your grandma about your organization.

That sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Why would you do that?  Your grandmother has probably never really understood everything you do anyway?

But what you did just now, was thought about communicating to someone specific.

You thought about ‘watering a message down’ maybe, so you could more effectively communicate to your granny.

And there’s my point. The biggest mistake most businesses make is:

“They keep trying to communicate too much of what they do to others who don’t care because they don’t know who they’re trying to connect with.”


Here’s the part where I offer to do this for you.

We do this huge essential FIRST STEP to all your marketing efforts. We get with you, ask questions, pick out people, call them, reward them for giving us (you) their valuable time, sift down through all the discussion, spray that data into a spreadsheet, share it with you, and if we do more – write copy, write ads, write scripts – we open that same documents so it’s staring us right in the face.


This… has changed the trajectory of entire business models.


So what do you think?

Are products and services the same across the board? (Please tell me there are others who recognize the difference in Oreos and Fake-eo’s).

Are marketing strategies?

What’s been your biggest lesson learned?

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