Marketing Is Gambling. Play It Like A Shark.


Two men in suites gambling on cards at a casinoGambling has a bad reputation. It’s seen as risky. Dangerous. Degenerate even. If I were to encourage you to gamble with your marketing budget, you’d probably tell me to take a long walk off a short pier.

Investing, by contrast, is considered to be smart business. If I were to suggest that you invest in marketing, you might want to learn how. Because investing is when you risk your money in order to make more—

Do you see the false choice here? Investing IS gambling. Whether it’s penny stocks, venture capital, or poker, the pros know that you have to take calculated risks and play the odds if you want to win.

Why marketing is a gamble

There are no guarantees in marketing.

Despite all the fancy automation, machine learning, and Big Data we have at our disposal, companies still spend money on marketing that fails – sometimes miserably so. Those with smaller budgets and less experience are even more likely than their larger competitors to suffer campaigns with a negative ROI (return on investment).

Why does this happen?

Marketing requires you to get the right message in front of the right people at the right time. It takes a certain amount of luck to hit all three at once.

That’s not to say there’s no skill or strategy involved. On the contrary, strategy is vital to your marketing success. But no marketer has a 100% win rate. Understanding that losses are a part of the game can help you make better decisions.

How to game your marketing like a pro

Move the odds in your favor

Three aces from a deck of playing cardsFrom counting cards to buying points, professional gamblers are always looking for an edge.

In marketing, you get that edge by doing your homework.

Get to know who your ideal audience is, where you can find them, and what they care about.

Know where you stand in the marketplace, how you stack up against your competition, and what your unique selling proposition is.

The better you understand your market, the higher your probability of achieving a positive ROI.

Diversify your portfolio

Hedge fund managers never put all their assets into a single stock (at least I hope they don’t). They know the best way to reduce risk is to spread it across a broad portfolio.

Never rely on a single source for your business leads. I don’t care how good that channel is performing today, it could dry up tomorrow.

Diversify your marketing by using a combination of owned, earned, and paid media.

  • Owned media are marketing channels you control, like your website, your email list, or your storefront.
  • Earned media (a.k.a. public relations or PR) are uncompensated mentions of your business by third-parties like journalists, bloggers, or your customers.
  • Paid media is any advertising you pay for directly, like Google Ads, event sponsorships, or billboards.

If you have a limited budget, focus on the marketing channels that can get you the greatest exposure to your best prospects in the shortest amount of time.

Learn from your losses

Just because a team won the championship last year doesn’t mean you should bet on them this year.

It’s way more fun to review campaigns that earned money than those that lost, but if you don’t examine both, you’re only getting half the information. It’s called survivorship bias and it can lead you to draw the wrong conclusions.

Win or lose, review your analytics and look for patterns that give you better insight into what your target audience responds to…or doesn’t.

Google Analytics For Beginners

Don’t bet money you can’t afford to lose

The reason gambling has such a bad reputation is that people (often desperate people) bet money they don’t have hoping to win big and turn things around. When they lose, bad things happen.

Marketing campaigns can and do fail. If someone is encouraging you to spend money you don’t have on some grandiose marketing scheme because “you gotta spend money to make money,” tell them to take a hike.

When you’ve got a limited budget, focus on learning marketing skills for yourself, building your organic reach, and networking with people who can help your business grow.

Then, once you’ve put down a firm foundation and are ready to expand, get in touch with me for a free consultation. I’ll show you how you can raise your marketing game to the next level.



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