Focus your marketing with this simple three doors technique

A marketing graduate recently asked me for some advice. He was overwhelmed by the number of marketing channels, software and strategies available and unsure where to focus. This is what I told him:

To focus your marketing, think about three doors:

There are open doors: The marketing activities your company already does. These are generally core activities that are the easiest to get approval for and somewhat understood by the business already.

There are closed doors: Marketing activities that the company will not do at the current time. These activities have been met with resistance in the past, because they didn’t work, don’t suit the brand image, are too costly or another blocker.

Lastly there are doors that are ajar: These are marketing activities you don’t currently do. That’s not to say they’re right just that they are options to consider. It’s up to you whether you put the effort in to make these open doors, or decide to close the door and focus elsewhere. There’s no right or wrong answer, just whatever is right for your business.

Breaking each door down

It’s easy to become addicted to the open door. The easy activities that have little resistance help establish a strong status quo for a business but if they’re the only activity you do then you aren’t really pushing the marketing forward.

Everyone hates the closed door. But it serves a key purpose. Some marketing activities must be closed doors. Without setting boundaries for marketing we can lose sight of what’s important and just constantly run around chasing the hot new thing. They’re still doors, so we may open them one day but for now they are a distraction.

As for doors that are ajar, it’s important to spend time really investigating these areas. Run through the door without hesitation and you may not like what’s on the other side, take too long and the door may close if a competitor does it first. Remember to try new things and use minimal viable products to see what’s out there, and then push for a larger budget once you’ve proved it can work.

Try this exercise

To help focus things draw out three doors and write in each one the marketing channels you could use based on which doors suits them best.

Then consider where you want to be in 6 months, 1 year and 5 years’ time. Which doors would you like to open more? Which open doors aren’t working, that you should close? Which closed doors should remain shut?

I tried this when I joined my current company and it really helped me focus on which areas were important.

Looking back, it’s fascinating to see which doors that were only slightly ajar are now wide open, with marketing strategies we never would have tried now becoming core strategies. Even some closed doors have opened as other strategies have proven themselves. We’ve even closed a few doors, retiring older strategies that have become less effective over time.

What’s important is setting realistic limits, knowing where to apply your efforts and making the most use of the time you have to maximise marketing effort.

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