Do you know what happens when you shove a gummy bear into a laser printer? I can assure you it isn’t pretty. That same gummy bear dropped into your devilled egg mix, your passport or your right ear would have similarly sticky and unpleasant consequences. That’s why most people manage not to put gummy bears near things they don’t want gummied up.
The same, sadly, is not true of many marketing strategies. My friend Ryan was recently seen to be picking gummy stuff out of his customer service processes by going to market with a fantastic offer for a month of free service for their commercial landscaping business.
Apparently, winter is a busy time, what with all that snow and stuff, and a very large number of people wanted to talk to a customer service representative about getting in on the free mulch at the same time as a major snow storm was walloping the East coast and the regulars were wanting someone to remove the evidence. Ryan gummed up the well-oiled machine of snowplow dispatch with an ill-considered offer.
Another fun way to gum up your colleagues is to try going after a new part of the market. Let’s say you’re a B2B company that sells, oh, I don’t know, how about software, to big companies. Now let’s say revenue is a bit on the flat side so you decide to go after the small business market. The first gummy bear gets lobbed at the development team.
Instead of figuring out how to add functionality and fix up some issues, the team is now working out how to pull features out of the product so it can be priced for a smaller customer while still doing something remotely useful and not gutting the code.
The second gummy bear is wreaking havoc in the receivables department. They’re pretty good at dealing with big contracts, purchase orders, glacial cheque runs and that sort of thing. What they’re not good at is customers who want to pay with credit cards, bitcoin, debit or rolled hams.
Gummy bears will turn up in due course in customer service, where they just aren’t prepared for hundreds of calls a day. Or in the web department, where someone thinks a chatbot will sort the whole mess out. Human resources will find itself gummied up with requests for people who can strip down the product and others who can sell it. The fulfillment team will be sad about the gummy bears dragging down their KPIs, and the contracts folks will find all the pages stuck together when they attempt to make new service agreements and sales contracts.
Inevitably, the bear will show up right where you would expect it to, in the place that thought this was such a fantastic idea to begin with: usually that’s sales or marketing. It is rarely finance.
Do you know why it’s rarely finance that comes up with gummy bear ideas? Well beyond the obvious, one of the things they are pretty good at is understanding cost inputs. Those of us who spend our days thinking about revenue and units and ARPUs, don’t often go to the other side of the balance sheet. And if we do give COGS (cost of goods sold) a thought, we probably don’t have a gummy bear factor worked into the equation.
This is why, when you have one of those fantastic ideas about adjacent markets, product tweaks, bundles, price promotions or contests, it pays to spend a few quiet days working with one of the Finance wonks to put together a business case that acknowledges the sticky bits of your brilliance.
A gummy bear managed is a gummy bear vanquished.
BizMarketer is written by Elizabeth Williams
I help companies have better conversations
Drop me a line at email@example.com