Should you opt for quantity or quality in your marketing efforts?
Or a mix of both?
These are questions many businesses struggle with today.
On the one hand, we hear of businesses that are extremely successful in leveraging creative mass media campaigns, multi-channel advertising, and aggressive sales efforts.
On the other hand, we also hear of businesses that are equally successful without spending any money on advertising, brands who rely on their fanbase, influencer endorsements, word-of-mouth, and publicity.
In my experience, both sides make compelling arguments.
But which side is right for your business?
“Go Wide” — Arguments for QUANTITY
Here are some of the common arguments from those who prefer quantitative marketing strategies:
“In most cases, you’ll need to capture purchases that are spontaneous, once-in-a-lifetime, or far in-between. They make up for the lion share of most lucrative markets.”
“Convincing one ambassador at the time and creating true fans1 is great in theory, but the truth is — it doesn’t scale.”
“If you want to grow by selling your products or services to a lot of people, you have to find ways to speak via mass media.”
“Quality engagement might add value over time, but it’s not as important as making as many actual sales as you can — today.”
“If there’s a market opportunity, rest assured that your window of opportunity won’t stay open forever. Speed is key in business.”
Reasonable arguments, no doubt. But what about the other side?
“Go Deep” — Arguments for QUALITY
Here are some of the common arguments from those who prefer qualitative marketing strategies2:
“If you can’t convince the few who actually cares, how are you going to convince the many who don’t?”
“Who cares if your acquisition strategy is fantastic if your retention strategy is a bust?”
“We must give up on the false idea that there are infinite populations. If you can’t get customers back, your business isn’t built to last.”
“All groups consist of individuals and individuals prefer to be spoken with, not talked at.”
“Today’s media consumers are expecting more personalized brand experiences, not less.”
Once again, valid points. Who should you listen to?
The Cheshire Puss Axiom for Marketing
In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol, Alice finds herself at a fork in the road, and she asks the cat, Cheshire Puss, for help:
Alice: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
Cheshire Puss: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
Alice: “I don’t much care where —”
Cheshire Puss: “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
Alice: “— so long as I get SOMEWHERE.”
Cheshire Puss: “Oh, you’re sure to do that, if you only walk long enough.”
If this were an analogy for marketing strategy:
(I) If your only focus is to maximize your sales, and you don’t care about how your brand is perceived, then you should take a step back and figure out what your brand really is about.
(II) Once decided on which path to take, whether that’s a quantitative or a qualitative approach (or a mix of both), you must commit to your strategy 100% and be prepared to do what it takes to outperform your competitors.
We rarely know which strategy will prevail, however, but we do know that short-sightedness and spreading yourself too thin will hurt your business goals way more than choosing a path that’s slightly longer than the other.
Rule-of-Thumb: There is No Rule-of-Thumb!
Maybe quantitative marketing strategies are better for B2C (business-to-consumer) brands, and qualitative marketing strategies are better for B2B (business-to-business) brands? Or, maybe quantitative approaches work better for larger companies with big budgets and qualitative approaches would be obvious choices for startups and underdogs?
Unfortunately, such polarizations would be too simplistic:
Apple is a large business-to-consumer company with big budgets, and they have been successful with a qualitative strategy (inbound marketing, creating a culture around the brand, public relations, etc.).
Or, the other way around: I know of many startups who have done well by simply plowing most of their venture capital into programmatic advertising, SEO, and SEM — without spending a dime on content marketing, influencer programs, or publicity.