Do you ever struggle to decide which marketing effort you’re going to do next? Struggle no more! Creating a basic marketing strategy will take those tough decisions away. I’ll cover how to set a vision and strategy for your marketing below (and really your business as a whole). But first, I’d like to share a little story about an ass.


The story of Buridan’s Ass (a hypothetical situation from philosophy) is a simple one. A mule that is equal parts hungry and thirsty is placed between a nice pile of hay to one side and a bucket of water on the other. The assumption is that the ass will choose the closest one, because he needs both and wants both. The catch is that the hay and water are exactly the same distance from the ass, so which should he choose.

The paradox suggests that the ass will die of both hunger and thirst because he can’t make up his mind (“stubborn as a mule”) and spends his last bit of life trying to decide.

While this paradox wasn’t about marketing choices and our inability to make business decisions, it’s easy to see how we can all get stuck standing still when we really should make a choice and move forward. I’ll share an example of this here.

Decide what your business really sells

I took over a cleaning business that was doing well, but had no real focus. The previous owner did whatever service was asked of him and made a decent living out of it. The question was, how do we grow something like this?
Which service do we sell? Who do we sell it to? Do we go for the water or the hay?

With several good (not great) revenue streams, we had to decide which service to pursue. We had no clear strategy and no clear way of deciding which service to focus on. So, for 6 months we kept doing everything for everyone that asked. And there was no growth. The business was an ass that couldn’t make up its mind.

Where do you want to take your business?

We had to decide which direction the business would grow and in order to do that we had to take stock of where we were. The Duct Tape Marketing System starts by asking where you are, where you’re going, and how you’re going to do it. There’s never a bad time to ask these questions.

We created a vision of what the business would look like, which service offering would be our primary focus, and what success really means. We focused on carpet cleaning and set goals for that specific service line.

Set goals and measure your progress

With a clear understanding of what we were doing and how the business would look, we set goals that align with that vision. We built out a roadmap, goal by goal, for building the business into one that fits our vision.

It’s the same for any business, really. Once you have the marketing strategy in place and everyone understands the direction you want to take the business, it’s easier to make decisions.

It’s easier because now that you know where you’re going, you can ask simple questions about what you should do. Does the hay or the water get your business closer to where it should be?

If you’re faced with options, always choose the one that lines up with your strategic plan. If you have to decide between running ads on Facebook or spending money to fix equipment, ask which one aligns with your vision.

What does success look like to you?

At the cleaning business we have high quality standards that require us to spend more money on equipment maintenance than on advertising. We have high expectations of our technicians, so we spend more on training than the website. Success is repeat customers and heaps of referrals. Knowing that makes marketing decisions easy.

What does success look like for you? And now that you know what it looks like, is it easier to make decisions in your business?

Want to see examples of marketing strategies? Leave a comment, call us, or send an email through the contact form, download our free ebook. We’ll get you on the right path.


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Topics: Marketing, Marketing Strategy

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