Feed Me Tacos and Tell Me I’m Pretty

Being a grownup is about recognizing constraints

Yes, the author says: Marketing does have a cost. (Photo: Thinkstock) Yes, the author says: Marketing does have a cost. (Photo: Thinkstock)

 

I have four teenagers in my house, three girls and one boy. Each day is interesting (let’s stick with that word) in its own way, and there is no shortage of eyebrow-raising moments. Surprisingly, some of these moments lead to business insights.

Recently, one of my daughters came home wearing a T-shirt that said, “Feed me tacos and tell me I’m pretty.” I couldn’t get my head around it, so I asked her what that meant to her.

(Related: What If People Have the Wrong Idea About You?)

After the mandatory “Wow, Dad, you’re old” face, she said, “Well the joke is that I want it both ways. I want to eat all the tacos I want and still be told good things about myself.”

I started to tell her about how as an advisor I would see this “have your cake and eat it too” mentality all the time. Prospects would come through the door wanting to invest, but their dream was to have a 10% per-year CD with a super consistent return that was also insured by the government. I laughed about how those things just don’t exist, so you either have to choose low risk with low reward or choose high risk with high reward.

She didn’t think the connection was nearly as funny as I did.

Long after she left the room, and took her taco T-shirt with her, I was thinking about this phenomenon. We easily recognize when it is unrealistic for someone else to want something both ways with no downside or risk, but we struggle to recognize when we are falling into the same pattern.

Every business owner, advisors who sell life insurance or annuity products included, is prone to wanting the ideal set-up for everything they do, and the most extreme situations are often in marketing because new potential revenue is on the line. Whatever the marketing initiative—radio ad, television ad, buying leads, billboards, social media, networking groups, and so on—we want the investment to cost as little as possible, and want the return on that small investment to be large, and want that return to be fast.

Like the CD, that’s just not how marketing works. Yes, it would be great if you could grow your business with something that was almost free, worked 100% of the time, and started producing returns as soon as you pushed the “start” button, but the reality is that most marketing efforts worth doing take time to be effective. As a result, our desire for wanting to have our cake and eat it too can push us into giving up on marketing efforts far too early.

For example, when we talk to advisors about appointment setting, we caution them that they should give a program at least a year to produce significant results. They may breakeven much earlier than that, but building a thriving pipeline of prospects and referrals—especially when high-valued prospects are involved—simply takes time. Regardless, it’s common for an advisor to forget how long their sales cycle usually lasts even in the most ideal of situations and start to expect that they will be able to close a big sale right from the first meeting.

If you want a game-changing return on any new business effort, you can’t expect that return to happen overnight. A fast, cheap, and highly profitable marketing vehicle does not exist. You have to concede on a few fronts in order to advance on another, and I suspect that more profit is more important to you than something being fast or cheap.

If you continue to search for a growth path that is fast, cheap, and profitable, you might as well be waiting for someone to give you all the tacos you ever wanted and then tell you that you’re pretty. Talk to your marketing partners about expectations and how to plan for long term success. In the end, you will get bigger returns on your marketing dollars.

--- Read Not So Fast, Tortoise on ThinkAdvisor

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