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Marketing Meditations: How Do You Get Unstuck?

Three meditations: something to think about, a “how-to” resource, and a marketing deep dive. Ommmmmm.

 

Something to Think About

Paul Ahlstrom from Alta Ventures is one of the authors of Nail It Then Scale It. This is probably my favorite line from the whole book.

Why?

Because in the world of startups, this is NOT common knowledge.

But this balance between the roles of founders and the role of customers clarifies a LOT of downstream decision making.

One "How To" Resource

Mary Keogh is Head of Marketing at Map My Customers. She’s a legit rising star, and you could probably get a marketing MBA just by reading her posts. PLUS, she is a master at dropping actionable how-to content on LinkedIn.

You should follow her.

This image below is just a taste (click here to read the whole thing.)

A Marketing Deep Dive

How do you get unstuck?

In April, 2021, my wife and I took a trip to Mexico.

We went to Puerto Penasco, Rocky Point.

It’s kind of quasi-Mexico.

They mostly speak English there and happily exchange USD.

We had a fabulous time. We went parasailing, we ate more than we should, listened to locals cover 80s hits from English-speaking bands, and walked up and down the beaches on the Sea of Cortez.

It was so much fun, we decided we HAD to go again… and bring the kids.

🤔

We have six children, so the logistical scale was somewhat more aggressive.

And four of them are stepkids, so we had schedules to figure out.

In fact, the only time we could make it work… was Christmas.

Christmas in Mexico!

Feliz Navidad!!!

What could go wrong?

🤔

We flew to Phoenix where my brother lives.

He was kind enough to let us borrow his old 15-seater van.

We piled it high with luggage and drove south toward the border.

Our kids were a little scared.

Some of them had never been outside the U.S.

If you pooled the Spanish abilities for all eight of us… we could barely ask to go to the bathroom.

We crossed the border at nightfall.

In less than thirty minutes we got pulled over.

After a quick inspection, and seeing that the only thing we were smuggling was our own brood of teenage girls, the cop told us in perfect English that we could go.

A few seconds later, a Ferrarri with no lights on blazed past us doing 100mph, and the cop’s night got more interesting.

We continued on in the dark in our old van.

My wife had booked us at a “new” resort on the other side of town from where we’d stayed.

We turned off onto a dirt road, marked by some reassuring makeshift signs.

It turned out that the “new” resort was more of an “unfinished” resort. It was a 10-story condo tower, but the top 6 floors were still under construction… and had been for about 2 years.

We checked in, looked around, and—even though the beaches were less picked over and we saw some cool stuff like this sea turtle skeleton—we immediately determined that this resort was NOT going to provide the experience for our kids that we had hoped.

The next morning we piled into the van and went to find another place to stay.

We’d made our way into the resort at night.

In the dark.

The roads were dirt and everything was under construction.

We tried to retrace our steps back to the road.

But suddenly the van felt squishy.

I tried to turn it around, but the wheels only sank deeper into soft sand.

🤔

I had taken a wrong turn, driven off the road, and was now stuck.

In a foreign country.

With my family.

In a borrowed van.

In the Sonoran Desert.

As my gift to my children… for Christmas.

We called the insurance company (we had purchased special insurance for the trip).

“How far off the road are you?”

“Oh, maybe fifty feet from the dirt road”

“How far from the paved road?”

“Not more than a few miles.”

“I’m sorry, but our insurance only covers incidents within ten feet of the paved road. Any further than that and we consider it a ‘recovery’ operation and that is not covered.”

🤔

We called a towing service.

They didn’t speak English.

Even when we spoke slowly and loudly. 🤷🏼♂️

We called another. They said they would come get us.

After an hour we called back.

They were lost.

We called the resort, hoping they would forgive us for checking out early.

Luckily, they had many construction workers on hand. 🤦🏼

They came out to get us.

And got stuck.

About this time, one of the kids sat on a cactus. 🌵😢

The construction workers got unstuck and went back for more help.

Finally, after several memory-making hours, they got my brother’s van out of the sand.

About this time, one of the kids sat on a cactus. 🌵😢

The construction workers got unstuck and went back for more help.

Finally, after several memory-making hours, they got my brother’s van out of the sand.

After that, we had a great trip.

Well, except for the head lice outbreak, but I digress.

SOOOOOO.

What if you’re marketing feels like me and my family spinning our wheels in the middle of the desert?

Stuff just isn’t working.

Here’s the little framework I use to get unstuck.

There are four things.

If these four things are right, marketing works 100% of the time.

Guaranteed.

And when things aren’t working, a conversation through these four things usually surfaces a best guess at which one is broken.

Or at least where we need to look.

They are:

  1. Customer
  2. Product
  3. Message
  4. Channel

Customer

It is so easy to talk to the wrong people. If you’re B2B, this is the combo of your ICP and key buyer personas. If you’re B2C this is your target customer.

It should be the person that has a desperate need, for whom the problem you solve burns the brightest, and who feels the pain of not solving that problem the most.

Product

Is your product solving the problem, easing the pain, meeting the need? This is the toughest one for marketers because if the product is bad, no amount of marketing will fix it (though many have tried).

Message

The Customer needs two things from your message. To “get it” and to want it. Is it clear? Is it compelling?

Channel

The first three are kind of GTM prerequisites. Channel is more mechanical. More science than art. Here the question is only if the right Customer is in the right frame of mind to receive the message through this channel.

If not, it’s the easiest to fix. Just test a new channel.

And if you think about it, these four things are all we needed to get unstuck in Mexico.

We needed to use the right number (channel) to talk to the right people (customer), tell them the right thing (in English), and deliver the right product (a chance to help someone in need).

That’s it for this edition.

You’ve heard my story of getting stuck, getting unstuck, and how you can do the same in your marketing efforts!

Until next time… namaste.

 
Chad Jardine, Founder & CEO

CMO Zen


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