Mining for Gold and Watching for Sink Holes in Big Data

Picture of Contrarian Marketing

The excerpt below on Mining for Gold and Watching for Sink Holes in Big Data  is from Chapter 3 of Contrarian Marketing, and is instructive to building skills to understand how contrarian marketing is ‘not magic’, but rather ‘just math‘.


Picture of Steve Jobs Quote on Your Time is Limited so Do Not Waste It Living Someone Elses Dogma





If you are like most companies and individuals, you wonder how to market effectively. How do you allocate marketing capital efficiently? How do you decide between different marketing tactics? How do you track results?

The questions in marketing can be endless: which marketing media do you focus on and how much marketing capital do you need? What is the difference in effectiveness between print advertising, online, billboards, events, direct mail, word-of-mouth, TV ads, radio, search engine marketing, even the Yellow Pages?


  1. How much emphasis do you place on your sales team’s feedback on marketing?
  2. What marketing messages do you communicate to your best customers and prospects?
  3. Do you over-focus on a medium in which the sales person of that outlet is most effective or likable?
  4. How do you do a “quick fix” on your sales or profitability problems?
  5. Does your senior management team give subjective and uncoordinated feedback to the marketing department?
  6. Are you over-spending in marketing? How can you tell?
  7. Can you track the results of your marketing investments?
  8. Are you generally disappointed by the results that you get from your marketing campaigns?
  9. How many customers do you really need to be successful?

Do you allow your sales people to attribute their failure to poor marketing?

But first, it is  essential that you understand and avoid four basic traps of marketing:

1.  The Ego Trap
A lot of marketing media plays to your ego—putting your name or your company’s name ‘in lights’. Effective advertising sales staff will aim to flatter you or your company by suggesting that they will make you rich and famous. For example, were you proud when your company advertised on TV or radio for the first time? Or when you launched your first advertising campaign? What about when your logo was featured in the baseball stadium for the first time? It is okay to be proud of your company’s success, but hubris is a luxury few companies can afford in these uncertain economic times. Market to your company’s strengths and not to your ego.

2.  The Competition Trap

Playing the game of ‘Your competitor is advertising here….so should you’ is common. Tradeshows are infamous for turning marketing spending into an arms race among competitors for who has the largest exhibition space. The biggest winner is not you, nor your competitors to see who can spend the most, but the firm who sold you the space. The most effective marketers aim to be contrarian and to market where their customers/prospects are but their competitors are not.

3.  The Messaging Trap

Marketing competes for the precious attention of the customer. By cramming too many messages, or the wrong message, into marketing tactics you vastly lower your chances of capturing your customers’ attention and loyalty. Examples of very clear marketing with a singular message vs. those with an obscure message or no message at all include:

  • Subway’s “Five Dollar Footlong” & healthful eating campaign vs. Quizno’s lack of a clear message.
  • Coca Cola’s refreshing campaign vs. Pepsi’s lack of clear message.
  • Barack Obama’s ‘Change’ campaign in his first presidential election.
  •’s “No Software” message vs. Microsoft’s complex software message.
  • BMW’s “ultimate driving machine” message to high-end customers (drive our cars and you ARE successful) vs. GM’s jack-of-all-trades message, etc.

4.  The Customer Trap

This is the largest trap of all….thinking that all customers are the same. If five percent of your customers generate 70 percent of revenue and profits, you should allocate 70 percent of your marketing capital to target those customers and prospects. Moreover, you should design your business processes to treat those customers differently—treat them as B-of-B customers and they will become raving fans.

Many companies also fail by giving the ‘moon and stars’ to non B-of-B customers and prospects. If a low-value customer asks for special treatment, find a nice way to say ‘no’.

In the next article post, I will introduce you to a case study where a company treated “all customers the same”.

Source:  Excerpt from the Contrarian Marketing Book  Chapter 3

By Nick Mavrick

You can find Nick Mavrick on Google+

Intelligent Response specializes in managing and securing Strategic Marketing and Web Development projects from start to finish in Washington DC.

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