Saturday, January 9, 2010

Does Your Business Suffer from
"Cart Before Horse Syndrome"

Cart Horse

Idiom Definition:
Putting the Cart before the horse

When you put the cart before the horse, you are doing something the wrong way round.

Can you imagine a horse standing behind a cart trying to move it forward? It would be extremely difficult for the animal don't you think?

The horse would not know for certain whether it had a clear path to walk on or what objects might be in its way. It may stumble over unseen objects, its judgment would be off and its sense of direction and focus would be affected. Not to mention, the horse would have to exert a serious amount of energy to maneuver and push that cart forward.

You know, most businesses are not any different than that horse. They make the same mistake with their business. . .they put the cart before the horse and try to push their way into the market without a clear sense of direction or focus. When it comes to marketing and promoting their business, they fall into the 'marketing idea of the week' syndrome, versus having a proper strategic plan in place with a strong focus and clear sense of direction.

For instance, many companies launch their business without determining:

1) if a hungry crowd exists for their particular goods and services
2) who makes an ideal client
3) if there is a large mass of prospects and customers to sustain their business
4) where their ideal clients and hungry crowds hang out
5) how to speak the language of their hungry crowds/ideal clients
6) how to stand out in an over crowded market place

As a result, most companies are floundering about with no have focus or clear direction for their business, nor do they know who their ideal customers are. Unfortunately, they end up pushing their way in the market, stumbling and floundering along, while exerting extreme amounts of energy and effort in an attempt to maneuver their business forward.

We see it happen all the time where companies need an online presence so they put up a website for the sake of having a presence without giving any strategic thought as to their goals and objectives, and how they are going to design their website so it appeals to their ideal target audience. We also see a lot of companies throwing advertisements in different newspapers and magazines, attending tradeshows and exhibits, joining business organizations, and so forth, without determining whether large masses of their hungry crowd reads those publications, attends those events, and are members of those particular organizations.

When we ask them what their main reason was for placing the ads, attending the tradeshow and joining the organizations, the common response is "because everybody else is doing it", and when we ask "who is everybody else" the answer is usually "our competition". OK, well that may be something - but more often than not they end up standing in a room full of competitors and people who have no intention of ever doing business with them, so the efforts become fruitless. . .or they place ads in mediums that their ideal client and hungry crowds aren't even reading, or they design marketing messages that turn off their ideal client versus appealing to their wants needs and desires.

A prime example: When I worked in Economic Development one of my portfolio's was cruise ship attraction. One year, we were approached by an organization that was hosting a regional tradeshow in the Maritimes. They asked if we wanted to participate in the tradeshow as a vendor - they were bringing in some major curiselines to attend the event. The cost to participate was no small potatoes, in fact it was a considerable financial investment. Our interest was definitely peaked, however, before committing, we did our homework first.

We asked for a list of past exhibitors and we called a few of them to find out more about this tradeshow. . . we found out that there were approximately 50 exhibitors that participated, with only a few cruiselines attending, we would have only a half day to exhibit, and the cruiseline representatives time outside of the tradeshow was fully booked and committed so we were not able get any one-on-one time with them. These past exhibitors who were very successful in securing many cruiselines for their port explained to us that it was a poor financial investment with very little reward.

So think about that. . . 50 companies exhibiting in a half day event with only a handful of cruise companies attending at a significant financial investment. Naturally, we had a particular budget set aside for cruiseship attraction efforts. To attend this event, we would have eaten up over 60% of our budget and we could not warrant the investment.

Had we not known who our ideal clients were and how to determine where large hungry crowds hang out, we may have gone and invested 60% of our budget to attend this trade event . . . but we had a very focused plan with a clear sense of direction. Sure, we could have gone out on a limb and taken the risk, but when you have restricted financial resources you really want to invest in marketing and sales opportunities that have a high return on investment.

So what does it take to over come
"Cart Before Horse Syndrome"?

1) Put Strategy Before Tactics

2) Invest in Marketing Systems

3) Educate and Train Your Staff on Your Marketing Systems

4) Develop An Annual Marketing Program

5) Commit to the Process

6) Understand Your Market

7) Know Your Ideal Clients and Where They Hang Out

8) Know Your Value Proposition

9) Know What Makes You Different

10) Have a Top 10 List as to why people should do business with you

Author: Nancy Beth Guptill, Sweet Spot Marketing

Sweet Spot Marketing provides marketing solutions that cures businesses suffering from “Cart Before Horse” syndrome. As an Authorized Duct Tape Marketing Coach Practice, we build and install commercialization, lead generation and business marketing systems. Ultimately, we hold our clients accountable for their Marketing and Business Development Success. If your company suffers from “Cart Before Horse” and you are searching for a cure, please call 902-724-3330 or email to book your 60 minute complimentary marketing consultation session. We'll discuss your marketing and business development goals, and we will help you map out a plan that brings clarity, focus and a clear sense of direction for your business. Visit us online at

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