Why do you need the Stop Doing List? – 8 things that marketers need to stop.

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Do you maintain a To-do list?

My guess is that you do, particularly if you are struggling to achieve too many things in a given day. But you are not alone. We all are brought up in the ‘to do’ culture. While the ‘to do’ list has some role in organizing our life, the problem starts when a marketer extends this ‘to do’ phenomena to his brand strategy. When a marketer tries to do everything to his brand what his competitors are doing, the brand loses its focus. And the price that he pays is lack of any differentiation.

Why You Need the Stop Doing List

According to strategy guru Michael Porter, “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do”. Trying to adapt too many market practices is perhaps the reason why you are struggling to meet your growth objective. This year did you resolve to start something more? Its time you created a fresh resolution to stop doing certain things. Your ‘Stop Doing List’ can turn out to be the best thing that you will do this year.

The following is the list of 8 things that you can include in your stop doing list for a happier, healthier and successful new year.

  1. Stop trying to be everything to everyone: It’s a most common trap marketers fall into. In their anxiety to exploit the market potential, they promote their brand with too many indications and as many USPs. Remember, when a customer has many options to choose from, he invariably prefers a specialist to satisfy his specific need. As Al Ries and Jack Trout have put it in their famous book 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing “A brand that seeks to be everything to everyone will end up being nothing to everyone”.
  2. Stop focusing on short term measures: Instead, focus on building big brands. Remember the world exists beyond the next month or the next quarter. Short term measures like gifts, CRM, bonus offers etc., at times may give you some reprieve but in the long run they erode the brand equity and hurt your career prospects.
  3. Stop accepting mediocrity: Raise the bar. Set high level of expectations, from others and also from you. They say that it is the dog that should wag the tail and not the other way around. But what we see nowadays is a tail of logistics, travel, deadlines etc. ruling over strategy. The success of a brand is determined by the depth of the strategy, wow factor of communication, effective field briefing and the quality of delivery inside the doctors’ clinic. When you compromise on all of these  you end up with a mediocre strategy which is poorly executed. It doesn’t matter even if you have delivered all the inputs on time and at a much lower cost.
  4. Stop accepting that creativity is not your cup of tea: Believe me, creativity is like a muscle. More the stimulus you put on it, more it gets developed. But like muscle building, you really need to slog. The reward is that once you learn to change the way you think, world class creativity will start flowing through you effortlessly. There are many good books available. You can also learn from your superiors, colleagues and even competitors.
  5. Stop being impatient: Remember, Mega brands don’t get built overnight. Don’t tamper with the core communication of your brand every now and then just because results are not in line with expectation or simply because the core theme was designed at the time of your predecessor. It is better to spend months before arriving at best-in-class strategy and communication. Once it is done, stick to it.
  6. Stop believing that you have learned everything: The biggest trap that a marketer can fall into is to think that he has learned everything. That is where learning stops. Those who stop learning, close their mind. Marketing is all about learning to live with multiple ideas that at times can even be contradicting. It is not all about filtering out ‘right ones’ and shutting the mind for the ‘wrong ones’ but is all about broadening the vistas. Also as stated by John W Gardner, “One of the reasons people stop learning is that they become less and less willing to risk failure” This is where we come to the next item of your Stop Doing List
  7. Stop playing safe: There is enough number of people who will tell you what you “can’t” do in pharma. There is equal number of people to tell you what you “ shouldn’t” do. When you design your campaigns keeping in mind all these ‘can’ts’ and ‘ shouldn’ts’ you will not raise any eyebrows but end up designing un-exciting campaigns. Your brand gets lost in the clutter. If you are playing safe with the belief that you are staying away from risk, think again. By not being different, by not being crazy, you are putting your brand to a much greater risk of becoming extinct.
  8. Stop believing that what worked in the past will continue to work in future: There are many seasoned marketers who have been successful in the past. They fondly remember some of their great strategies that gave them success in the 80s and 90s. The problem starts when they insist that their team should implement the same strategies even today. But the market dynamics keeps changing at a very rapid pace. What brought success to someone yesterday can be a total disaster today. If you aspire to be the leader in numbers then take the lead in setting new innovative trends. Numbers will follow.

If the above makes sense to you, please take out few minutes to reflect. Try and figure out if you are doing anything that is hurting you the most. This will be part of your Stop Doing List for the New Year. It need not be all the 8 things. It could be 5 or 3 or even one. Ensure that you follow your resolution and this year could be your best year ever.

What have you resolved to stop from the above list?

Do you have some different Stop Doing List?

Would love to hear from you.

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