Is it too early for spring-cleaning?

Thanks to a break in New York’s weather last weekend and because I’m highly optimistic spring isn’t too far off, I was compelled to do some early spring-cleaning — to empty a very small closet of stuff I never wear.

Some things no longer fit. That made it easy to decide. Will I ever gain that much weight Ties in closetback or will I ever be that thin again? Somehow, keeping the extra large sizes sets me up for failure. Keeping the skinny wardrobe gives me hope.

For whatever reason, I had the toughest time with ties. I don’t wear a lot of ties and, in recent months, I’ve moved away from bowties. The bowties were an attempt at branding — a way of differentiating myself and proving how nimble-fingered I could be racing out the door at six o’clock in the morning.

As fate would have it, I rediscovered a number of ties from my past I absolutely love. They were either given to me as gifts or I bought them for myself.

They’re in great condition and many like new. But I don’t wear them. Nevertheless, I’m not ready to give them away. I just like them. They make me feel good. Plus, they take up hardly any space in my closet.

I think a lot of business owners feel the same way about their marketing programs as I do about my ties.

They have marketing programs in place and they love ‘em. Some have been around for years. But they don’t want to give them up and they don’t want to throw them away.

Are they being sentimental like me with my ties? Or are they hopeful that some day the old campaign will work as well as it once did?

Even in the face of cold, hard evidence to substantiate a program isn’t working and provides no return on investment, they continue to hold onto it for dear life.

It’s not a new problem and it happens all the time. I talk about this challenge in my new book, How to Close More Business in Less Time. I explain that marketing programs and initiatives (like my old ties) go out of style, wear out, become obsolete, and no longer fit. What worked yesterday may not work today. In fact, it may never work again. Plus, you can’t close more business in less time if you don’t bring them in the door in the first place.

The way I see it, business owners and marketing professionals want to be doing their own spring-cleaning continually — throwing away marketing programs and initiatives that aren’t working.

At the same time, they want to be searching and testing new marketing strategies and programs. There’s always a new idea, new market segment, new pricing strategy, new social media channel coming along.

While you can’t do everything, you can test on a small scale. If and when one of those tests proves successful, you can take the necessary steps to move in that direction and implement on a larger scale.

The important takeaway is this: In order to go shopping for new ties, a new suit, a new wardrobe, new shoes, or more efficient and effective marketing programs, the first step is to make room for them. That means throwing away what doesn’t work.

But you don’t want to fall in love with those new marketing programs. Because someday you’ll go back into your marketing closet and they, too, will be old and outdated. They’ll need to be tossed in order to make room for something new.

Simple formula. Out with the old, in with the new.

Hey, anyone want to join me for some tie shopping this afternoon?

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2 Responses to Is it too early for spring-cleaning?

  1. Hugh Manning says:

    Two thoughts, interrelated:
    1-Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. If your marketing program isn’t delivering the results you desire, what makes you think that doing it again will produce a different result?
    2-The old saying “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got.” which is really just a variation on the theme above. If you aren’t happy with it, why keep doing it, even if it seems cool or cutting edge? The key is performance, not hip-ness.

    In the software biz, we are always throwing out what was done before when something better is determined to exist. Sometimes that doesn’t work out the way we expect it to, but change and innovation is a constant in software. The marketing of business needs to take some of the same attitude. The key in either case is establishing a metric, and then being ruthless in the evaluation. Know if it works, or if it doesn’t. You can always go back to what worked before, look at the classic New Coke debacle.

  2. I don’t shop for ties ever. None of my male friends wear ties. Most of my male friends wear military camo. But, yes, I can see how tossing stuff that doesn’t work, works. I have changed my idea of sales and marketing for my editing and proofreading biz after reading both of your books. Just subtle changes, but changes just the same.

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