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Strategy, tactics, ideas and tips from Creative Company.

Marketing strategy, mice and bears, oh my!

I live in the country…

Marketing strategy and vineyard viewsNo neighbors, surrounded by vineyards, trees, fields. It’s wonderful. You urban dwellers used to high-rise buildings, traffic noise, and neighbors a cough away may not get it. But it’s worth it for the view, the quiet and the easy breezy drive to work in a charming small town that never sees gridlock or smog.  (that’s McMinnville, Oregon). But this lifestyle can have its challenges.

Where water is like marketing strategy …

We can’t live without water. And we can’t be effective in business without marketing.  Yet there are times when keeping the water (and marketing) flowing can be a problem.

A series of recent water-supply-related events that urban dwellers would never experience have given me fresh marketing insight.

I think. You tell me.

Here’s the back story.

My water supply comes from a spring down the hill from my home. The spring flows into a tank which then pumps up to another tank about a half mile up the hill, in front of my house. This has worked, for the most part, for 27 years, barring no power (no pump), a broken water line, or a pump failure.

This summer has been exceptionally dry. The plants and area around the house (no sprinkler system) had dried out. So I figured I should hand water some of the key rose bushes and small trees and not risk losing them.

After watering, I discovered my upper tank was no longer refilling from the lower tank. Significant issue. Biggest concern–has the dry weather caused my spring to dry up? That would be a disaster!

Mouse and marketingCalled the water guys and scheduled a visit. They checked the lower tank and discovered a large family of mice had taken over the control box for the pump and chewed through the wires. The water guys clean it out (including three skeletons) and replace the control box. They show me pictures. Ick.

Problem solved? Nope. Lower tank is filling by only a few drips. Not enough to replenish the upper tank.

Next … check the spring. It’s doing okay, but the spring box is clogged up with debris. It gets cleaned out. We wait.

No more water for days. I’m doing laundry and showering someplace else, really conserving. Bringing water home in jugs from the office so I can at least water the pots and do the dishes. Fun.

marketing strategy and bears and miceI let the water pros know. Water guys return. They think they need to re-pipe from the spring to the lower tank because the pipe is clogged or bad; a long, hot, dirty and likely expensive job. They check it out and return to tell me …

There’s been a bear playing in the spring, tossing around the pipe and spring box! The box that collects the spring water is detached from the pipe that feeds the lower tank. The pipe is crimped. And it’s not even attached to the lower tank at the other end. Of course there’s no water!

They resettle the spring box, re-attach the pipe, cut out the crimp and realize they don’t need to re-pipe the whole line, just re-attach. Once it’s all connected again the water flows freely, the lower tank fills quickly and pumps up to the upper tank.

Success! The whole system works so well the lower tank pumps up three times in the next day to completely refill the main tank at my house. I can shower! Do laundry! Soak the plants! And as a friend pointed out, make coffee, the real essential!

Now, let’s get back to the marketing strategy, what did I learn?

  • We (marketers like you and me) design systems and campaigns with multiple pieces that must work together to have a good flow of new business to fill the tank. But you can’t just set up a system and then forget it … conditions change, things happen. Wildlife moves in.
  • When something’s not working, we make some assumptions about why based on what we already know. Yet, we may not be fully aware of what’s really happening. There may be conditions we never thought of. (I never considered a bear looking for a toy!)
  • Each part has to be fully attached to the next for a good flow. Each message and visual must relate to the next when you think about the continuum of contacts required for successful response to any marketing strategy. When something doesn’t connect (or make sense from your audiences’ point of view) it stops the flow.
  • When something’s not working, the flow of response has stopped or been reduced to a trickle, it’s time to bring in the experts. They know what to look for, they have the tools to fix what’s broken, and they have strategies that will address what’s actually happening. They have experience and know-how.
  • A do-it-yourself system cobbled together from different components (whether website or marketing campaign) is more open to mysterious problems. If I could be on a city water system, managed by someone else, (I can’t) these issues wouldn’t happen.

My marketing strategy advice? 

  • Keep checking and tuning up each part of your strategy so it keeps the new business flowing.
  • Make sure your message, from your audiences’ point of view, connects at every contact point, every point of choice (where audiences decide to take action or go somewhere else).
  • Check with the experts if something isn’t working.
  • Consider having an outside resource, with knowledge and experience, manage your marketing program or inbound marketing program. It can save you worry, frustration and stress.

Do you have a marketing story or wildlife story to share? Let me know!

Meanwhile, download our Brand Responsibly Manifesto … 18 guidelines to guide your marketing strategy and keep response flowing!

About the author

Jennifer Larsen Morrow

Jennifer's four decades of work in the industry, starting as a designer and adding marketing, copywriting and digital marketing, has generated response for clients since 1978.

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  1. A great story, Jennifer! Even when all the normal things check out, sometimes it’s important to think about things outside the norm. Hopefully, like you, it turns out to be entertaining and inspirational.

  2. Great analogy! We were having well problems this year too so I feel your pain! Glad to see you found a solution!

    • Yes, good to have the water pros available to make it all work … finally.

  3. Brilliant! Very good and true analogy prompts me to ask: is there a bear playing in my spring??? Maybe! Thanks ‘

    • And as I noted, at least the spring is still flowing! Bear or no bear. Glad you enjoyed it!


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