Variety Is The Spice Of A Marketer's Life

Ginger Shimp

Shortly after having purchased our first house, my husband and I began to fix the place to our satisfaction. High on my OCD-related list of concerns was a coach light that hung at an angle. My husband agreed to prioritize this, provided that I gave an assist. Well, no sooner was he up on a ladder, holding the light in one hand and a screwdriver in the other, than his otherwise extensive vocabulary devolved to expletives.

Wanting to smooth stormy waters any way I could, I suggested that a fender washer might be just the thing to solve his problem. “Yes!” he exclaimed. “Look in my hardware bins; I have a number of them in there!”

Uh-oh.

Given his precarious position on the ladder, and not wanting to let him down, I rushed to his basement workshop. There I stood, stupefied at the wide array hardware in the bin. To be perfectly honest, I had had no idea what a fender washer was (still don’t); I had merely heard him use the word once. My short-term goal had been to simply keep him from indulging in colorful language within earshot of the new neighbor’s five-year-old, but I was certain I would only exacerbate the issue if I didn’t come back quickly, or if I came back with the wrong thing. I took my best guess, and dutifully, pridefully even, brought him a handful of lug nuts.

Sigh.

Fortunately, he found the situation so absurd that we had a good laugh over it.

I did plead my case with him, though. “Why on earth should there be so many different kinds of hardware? Does anyone really know the difference between a metal screw and a machine screw? Are box nails only used to build boxes? What would happen if you used a concrete nail on a roof or a roofing nail in concrete? And if the size of nails is measured in ‘pennies,’ why are the boxes marked ‘4d,’ ‘6d,’ and ‘8d’? What happened to ‘5d’ and ‘7d’?” I thought I had him with that one, but the conversation shifted to dress sizes, and then bra sizes, and I was on the ropes again.

Then he blindsided me completely by asking why I need so many marketing tactics. “Why do you need white papers, and infographics, and blogs, and presentations, and webinars and all of that other stuff? Why don’t you just send out emails, for Pete’s sake—everybody reads email!”

I’d never felt so underappreciated in my life, but a fair question deserves a fair answer. Why do I need all of those marketing tactics?

Well, for one reason, our prospects come in three different “flavors,” and we need to appeal to each: 1. technical users who function as advisors; 2. middle management, aka key influencers; and 3. senior executives, or decision makers

Also, we also need to pay attention to how people like to consume information: Some prefer to read, so a white paper or blog would be in order; others are more visual and respond to videos or infographics; still others are more auditory and appreciate podcasts.

What’s more, some tactics lend themselves to different tasks, whether it’s diving into the weeds, providing an overview, or engaging in an interactive discussion. In short, there are nearly as many reasons why we need different types of content as there are content types.

At last, all’s well that ends well. The coach light has been fixed, the neighbor kid became a surly teenager with a saltier mouth than my husband (though it probably wasn’t my husband’s fault), I endeavored to learn more about hardware, and my husband has grown to appreciate marketing.

I think I got the last laugh, though. During a marathon cooking session over the holidays, I started to run out of everything in the kitchen. Up to my elbows in flour and egg whites, I sent my husband to the store for cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Aghast at the price of all those spices, my penurious husband decided a large container of allspice would be a sufficient substitute.

So much to learn, so little time.

For more on creative marketing strategies, see Adventures In Marketing: Choosing Customer Engagement Tech.


About Ginger Shimp

With more than 20 years’ experience in marketing, Ginger Shimp has been with SAP since 2004. She has won numerous awards and honors at SAP, including being designated “Top Talent” for two consecutive years. Not only is she a Professional Certified Marketer with the American Marketing Association, but she's also earned her Connoisseur's Certificate in California Reds from the Chicago Wine School. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of San Francisco, and an MBA in marketing and managerial economics from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. Personally, Ginger is the proud mother of a precocious son and happy wife of one of YouTube's 10 EDU Gurus, Ed Shimp.