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Not every idea is a winner. Courtesy photo
Ask Mr. MarketingColumns

Two minds and a single thought

Not a week goes by without one crazy idea or another coming out of my mouth. My wife and daughter stopped rolling their eyes long ago, and now just smile at me indulgently. I suspect it’s to keep me from getting agitated.

One of the ideas I actually invested money in a few years back was called Pad the Buck. It was a novelty gift item allowing the user to pad a stack of crisp new dollar bills that could be ripped off with a flourish when buying a package of gum.

We advertised the product and promoted it at length, but alas it never gained traction.


So imagine my surprise when Bill Lofft, managing director of investment banking firm Sierra Asia LLC, confessed to a similar effort with his Scratch Pad. Bill’s a lot smarter than I am, and hearing that he’d hustled a similar concept restored my faith.

Maybe it was the beer talking, but Bill began recounting his challenges selling wads of cash. “We couldn’t figure out how to get someone to pay more than the face value of the money,” he recalled.

Well, when you put it that way!

I share this tale of joint failure as a demonstration that any idea has competition. No matter how novel or creative your concept, there’s someone somewhere who’s done something painfully similar and could arguably steal business from you.

Competition and marketing aside, you must always watch for trends and factors with long-term impact. For example, with so few people using cash in today’s world, I’d never try bringing out Pad the Buck. I conclude this, even though digital marketing would let me get the word out for much less.

Conclusion: The idea still wouldn’t fly.

This is a solid reminder to constantly develop new ideas of what to sell and how to sell it. And recognizing in advance that even the “best” ideas can fail.

As you’re digging into 2024’s marketing efforts, start playing with additional ideas about what you’ll do if your next big strategy just doesn’t work.

Because that great idea you’ve been aching to get out there may have already been done, may flop…or both.

So try out your concepts, but remember the lesson of the shark and keep moving forward…or die.

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

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