Confronting Your Marketing Karma and Dharma
By Bob Martel, JMB Marketing Group

Keanu Reeves. The Matrix Revolutions. Train Station. Ram-Kendra to Neo: "Karma is a word, like love. A way of saying, 'what I am here to do.' I am grateful for it, grateful for my wonderful wife and my beautiful daughter. They are gifts and so I do what I must do to honor them. I do not resent my karma." (Truth be told, technically he should have said 'dharma' - his honorable duty. Karma and dharma are two words that seem interchangeable and they both apply to your marketing success. Karma is action. Dharma is duty. Both have a place in our capitalistic world. Without delving into a spiritual discussion, suffice it to say they are opposite sides of the same coin. You need to accumulate positive energy in each.) You know where this is going, don't you?

Okay. What the heck do karma and dharma have to do with your direct marketing success?
Plenty. In this world nothing happens to a person that he does not for some reason or other deserve, in life or in business. Stay with me for a minute. If you have read any of my past articles you know I can come at you from a strange tangent sometimes, but in the end it's always about marketing your business better, agree? This article may be a stretch, though, and you'll likely wonder whether I am hallucinating. To get you ready, take a moment now to close your eyes, breathe deeply and think about nothing for a moment. (If you have already been subconsciously doing this exercise for the past few years without my request to do so, then skip it now. I meant it as a way to clear your mind, not as a normal modus operundi.)

So now, let me ask you this, as you contemplate the future of your business or your department, and the success you and others rely upon: can the quality of your marketing efforts determine your business destiny? It's a rhetorical question, of course. The obvious answer is 'yes' because we both know the importance of getting it right - consistently, and maximizing the leverage of every marketing dollar. Okay, with that verbose preamble I'll get back on point, to the marketing karma and dharma that defines your business destiny.

Are you taking the proper marketing action to ensure your business success? Here's why I ask: in this economy, if your company has adopted a 'let's hide in the bunkers and try to ride this out' approach to marketing, then you are really not acknowledging your dharma. Employees, vendors, spouses and families, and perhaps stockholders rely on your marketing savvy. They all want to prosper under your marketing leadership so your dharma is to make smart marketing decisions every day. They count on you to make smart decisions that keep the phone ringing and to create an abundance of leads at the feet of your sales team. (Don't forget, the postman/woman is a member of your sales team. Where else can you get your sales message delivered for less than fifty cents?)

Here are some more thoughts on your marketing dharma:
--Share your enthusiasm and optimism with those who rely on your leadership, assuming you believe in your products, services, and employees. Communicate the company's overall goals and let them peek at your marketing vision. Better yet, give them confidence by demonstrating your marketing prowess. (It's really simple - do what you know you ought, and do it better than your fiercest competitors. Hint: start with a thank you campaign to your best accounts.)

--Cut costs elsewhere so you can fund your marketing success; be prudent with your marketing investments but don't shy away from getting your best marketing message in front of your best customers and prospects. Now is the perfect time to return to a smart direct mail strategy. The post office needs the business and mailboxes are generally empty these days, making it easier for your message to get delivered and read.

--If you never actually put your sales letter in the mail, is it really a sales letter? If you never actually put your sales letter in the mail, is it really a sale letter? If you send the same exact letter to everyone, with no personalization other than the personís first name, is it really personalized?

Now, about that marketing karma:
--How do you define marketing? I define as follows: The art and science of ethically creating want and desire for your services by understanding human emotions, motivations, and deep personal desires. The techniques that attract your prospects and move them to take action - in their best interests. Of course, it is also the act of delivering the right product at the right time and price to the right people. It's all about ethical requests for compliance. (You can add your own textbook definition here).

--It's just business, as they say, and not everyone in business follows the golden rule. Are you treating your customers and prospects with the respect and dignity they deserve? I hope so. They will go elsewhere and all of the great, slick marketing you brag to your buddies about is ultimately for not. Your retention rate bombs, cost per lead and cost per sale, not to mention lost lifetime value revenue potential go down the drain when good customers are treated poorly. Besides, it's bad karma.

--Do you stand behind the perceived value that your customers are acquiring when they purchase your products and services? Do your products and services perform as promised? Or, are you selling them snake oil?

--Finally, are you taking appropriate action to ensure optimal marketing success from your investments of people and programs? Are you holding people and dollars accountable for squeezing out a better response rate? Are you taking marketing shortcuts that save short term dollars but hurt response? Quality marketing programs, measured, fine tuned and repeated lead to good business that ultimately changes your business destiny.

In summary, as Ram-Kendra knew in the Matrix, do you know what you are here to do? A heavy question that goes far beyond marketing your business. Do what you know you are here to do in your business - help as many people as possible enjoy the benefits that your products and services deliver, and make a meaningful contribution to the quality of their lives. Deep - but the essence of your job nonetheless, if you embrace it fully, as this is what leads to higher profits even in an Obamanation. You can do well by doing good, and it starts with good marketing.

The metaphor was a little off-beat but aren't you tired of reading about the direct marketing basics that you should already know anyway? Getting back to basics is key since the pendulum is returning full swing toward what us direct marketers do know: direct mail marketing works - but you can't pump out junk. Nobody reads it and it's bad for our forests.

---Source: Bob Martel is the principal consultant at JMB Marketing Group, in Sterling, MA. Bob can may be contacted at (508) 481-8383, or through his web site,, where you can sign up to receive his Marketing With Ease newsletter.



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