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Marketing Strategy Lessons from Archery

Suppose you’re like me and not the world’s best archer (or even a good archer). You own a variety of bow shapes and sizes, and you plink away at your target with them. Some bows are a little easier to score well with, others… not so much. But you practice and you get a sense of what you’re good at and what you’re not good at.

Now suppose there’s stakes in the game. Maybe it’s a friendly bet or maybe you’re demonstrating something on a livestream and you want to look good. Nothing life or death, but something with meaning, and you need to hit the target in a relatively short period of time. What do you do? Take one shot with each bow you own and hope you get lucky? Or choose the bow you know you can hit best and shoot at it?

The logical answer is to pick the bow you know you can hit best and take your best shot.

So, why do we not do that with our marketing?

I look at how marketers are marketing and I see folks with their budget spread thinner than a teaspoon of Nutella on an entire loaf’s worth of bread slices. There is always a time and place for testing and experimenting, but dividing your budget up so that you’re spending 5% on everything on an ongoing basis is the same as shooting one arrow from every kind of bow and hoping you get lucky.

Look at your latest attribution analysis. For example, here’s mine, a year-to-date look at what contributes to my conversions most:

My own attribution analysis

What works for me? Organic search and my email newsletter, followed by social media, mostly Twitter.

If I shoot with my recurve bow and hit the target 63% of the time (organic search), and I shoot with my compound bow and hit the target 0.2% of the time (YouTube), in a situation where hitting the target matters, which bow should I be shooting with more often?

Certainly, in terms of practice and improving my skills, I might want to shoot with my compound bow to better myself, but if I were entering a competition or doing a livestream and I wanted to hit the target reliably, I’d pick my recurve, the bow I hit the target most with.

Do the same in your marketing. Practice all the time, but when you’ve got to hit some numbers, when you have a concrete goal to achieve, shoot with the thing you do best. Allocate 80% of your budget, time, and resources for what you know works and set aside 20% for practice and learning, but of that 80%, allocate it based on the data from your attribution analysis.

Let’s say I had 1,000 to spend on my marketing this month. I’d set aside200 to practice with. Of the 800 I have remaining, based on my attribution analysis, I’d devote504 towards organic search – hiring writers and editors, technical people or agencies to tune up my site, etc. I’d spend 163 on email marketing, probably ads to grow my list. And then with what’s left, I’d probably spend the rest on social ads on Twitter, because at that point, you can’t do much with 1% of a1,000 budget.

At the end of the month, I’d look to see what worked and what didn’t. Of my test budget, did I find something new? Did I get lucky? If so, I could start incorporating those findings into my production budget – maybe I ran a Tiktok ad that did really well even for a small budget. And I’d re-evaluate my production budget. Maybe I spent $233 on Twitter ads and saw absolutely no results. I’d look at my next source down the attribution analysis and spend there instead, give something else a shot.

I am consistently baffled by marketers who allocate budget by guesswork or by instinct. I’ve looked at clients’ attribution analyses, reports which look a lot like mine, where 50-70% of their conversions come from a channel like organic search, and then when I look at their budgets, they’ve spent 5% or less on organic search and 50% on a channel that delivers poorly. Why? Would you show up at an archery competition with your least favorite bow that you’re lucky to hit the target with on a good day? Or would you show up with your favorite bow, ready to score as much in the 10 ring as possible?

If you want to win as much as possible, match resources to results.

Archery and marketing both require skill to use the tools available. In archery, you must know your bows and arrows well, and not every bow is the same. The same is true in marketing – you have channels you’re more skilled with than others. When it counts, do what you know you do best.


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