The “Survival of the Fittest” Marketing Plan

Imagine that you run a business and want to improve revenue by increasing your marketing.

You could hire a marketing agency and hope that they know what they are doing.

I have had colleagues try this approach and it’s a total gamble that usually doesn’t pay off.

It’s hard to pick a marketing agency that knows what it’s doing.

And then the marketing agency has to pick a strategy that will actually pay off. Another shot in the dark.

But here’s a different approach.

1. Take the money you were going to spend on the marketing agency, and divide it up into 10 parts.

2. Make a list of 10 different marketing tactics you could take. Spend some time ensuring that these activities have potential to pay off.

3. Hire a different freelancer for each of those 10 marketing activities, making sure to keep within the budget.

(The total cost of the 10 freelancers should not exceed what you would have spent for the marketing agency. This is the toughest part but it’s important to minimise costs)

If you can’t afford to do all 10 at once, you could try them serially. For example you could try 5 marketing actions for six months, then 5 different marketing actions for another six months.

4. Try and ensure that you can measure the results of each marketing tactic. You need to know if it’s working or not.

5. You are now applying 10 different marketing tactics (over 6-12 months).

6. What are the chances that all 10 will succeed? It’s very unlikely. Almost zero chance.

7. But what are the chances that 1 out of 10 will succeed? Quite likely. In fact you’d be disappointed if at least 2 out of 10 didn’t work.

8. If one success can easily outweigh the cost of 9 failures, you are onto a good thing.

What have we done here? We have pushed the odds of success in our favor.

This is because:

a. We don’t need to be an expert in any of the tactics, beyond knowing that they have worked in the past

b. We don’t need to stress too much about choosing the right freelancers like we would have if we were picking just one marketing agency.

c. We are just relying on the law of averages, that out of 10 actions, only one needs to be successful. If two or three are successful, which is also possible, then we win big.

This is a kind of survival of the fittest plan for marketing. You don’t play favourites, but you just set the wheels in motion and let the results speak for themselves.

You then cull the low performers and double down on the successes.

Downsides of this Approach

a. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which thing contributed to the overall effect. This can make it hard to discern which marketing methods have failed and which have succeeded. This is the biggest difficulty.

b. With marketing, coordination is valuable. Having 10 different providers doing 10 different activities can make coordination much more difficult.

c. There is a bit more effort to be taken in the initial stages, as we find 10 different freelancers compared to one, but on the other hand, there is less riding on each decision.

The easiest thing in life is to take an easy option (handing over all responsibility to a marketing agency) and hope for the best.

But instead of taking a big risk, why not divide up the risks and let the law of averages work in your favor?