This week’s guest post is by Jamie Eslinger, a friend, colleague and fantastic marketing coach.

Jamie “Sling” Eslinger loves to make consumer brands shine.  As the founder of MarketingTiara she also coaches entrepreneurs and marketing mavens to be brilliant.

We all have experience chasing ice cream around the top of the cone before it falls off slowly dripping into a puddle on brand new summer sandals, right? But that’s the fun of it! The point is… you KNOW this because you have EXPERIENCED it first hand, or first lick whatever the case may be.

Let’s pretend you are from a far flung universe and ice cream is new. How you would explain it? Describe it? Package it? Convince others to try it?

Let me just get to my point. You know and experience YOUR OWN product better than anyone. You live it, sleep it, dream it, work it. In many cases, especially for consultants or entrepreneurs, TAG you ARE it.

So here are three tips to make sure your marketing plans don’t melt this summer:

1) Drinking Too Much Cool-Aid

Sometimes marketing people fall so in love with their own ideas, they forget to ask the most important person on the planet (hint: the customer) what they might think about it.

Solution:  Reach Out and Touch Someone

Even if you already subscribe to third party consumer research, conduct your own.

You can easily create surveys, do in-store questionnaires or hold focus groups with your best customers. And sometimes it’s even better to talk to your worst customers (the ones who don’t hold back any comments). In the end it doesn’t matter how you do it, just make sure you take some advice from the old AT&T ads …reach out and touch someone. Find out why they like your product or why they don’t. It will be insightful for your next product launch and you might be surprised what they say.

2)      Analysis Paralysis
If you’ve ever made fifteen spreadsheets to prove what just one will tell you, you know this state of being. Usually it means there are other issues at hand. For most projects you can only measure so much before it’s time to take action. Of course, it’s the measuring that leads to success so use the age old advice of measure twice cut once — not measure two billion.

Solution: Testing Schedules
If your team is stuck in the land of analysis it’s time for a test. Encourage them to take action.  One way is to set up a market test. Be sure the market is small enough to be measurable. It is also critical to give the test a start date and end date and know what you want to measure BEFORE the test begins. The classic questions to ask are: will this meet sales goals, profit goals and consumer interest? It is easy to get sidetracked once a test starts so make sure you set success parameters ahead of time.  It should be very easy at the end of the test window to know if the test passed and the launch is a go. If not, you go back to the drawing board but now with a lot more information than just a spreadsheet.

3) Social Media Blues

Feeling behind the times with social media? Who doesn’t’?! It changes every day. That’s what makes it fun and so hard to keep up with too. In the old days of advertising a marketer paid for tons of research to prove if a television ad or radio commercial was on brand, or if it was compelling enough to sell before the ad ever saw the light of day.  Not so these days.

Solution: Merge It

If you are a little weary of how to add social media to your standard marketing, let me just point out there is a huge international focus group in real time just waiting for you – it’s called facebook, sometimes referred to as twitter and other times it comes in the form of a blog. You can tap into this instant information engine to gain free insight about your products. It can be a barometer of what your current customers actually believe and tip you off to important messages you need to address in your advertising. By merging consumer thoughts collected through social media into your standard marketing mix, you can effectively create traditional media (tv, radio, even internet ads) with social media intelligence.

To see a three month plan of how this works, read this great article by Bill Flitter:

For a marketing strategy that won’t melt I recommend mixing consumer insight with action (test something, do something, don’t just sit there looking at your computer screen) and tap into your social media friends and followers for some key insights and messages. And to the Dog Days of Summer I say enjoy the ice cream and leave the Cool-Aid behind.

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