Reaching takeoff speed

In aviation speak the term “V2” refers to the speed an aircraft must reach in order to take off. At anything less than V2 it will not leave the ground.

Marketing activity has to reach a certain threshold before it has any real impact.

What on earth has this to do with marketing? My point here is that, when you are marketing your business, there is also a sort of V2 speed, or level of activity below which nothing will really happen. Imagine you are the pilot of the jumbo jet going down the runway. You decide to ‘drive’ it down the runway at a steady 100kmh. You are going forward and everything seems to be working OK – everything ‘looks’ right. It’s just that 100kmh will not generate enough airflow over the wings to lift the plane into the air. If you keep going at that speed, you will just end up going off the end of the runway, crashing through the fence and coming to a halt in a field (or worse).

Marketing activity has to reach a certain threshold before it has any real impact. Scott Stratton in his book Unmarketing talks about his experience when he first decided to use Twitter in a business context.

He realised at an early stage that he was going to have to commit a certain amount of time and energy to Twitter in order for it to work for him. One Tweet a week or even just one Tweet a day was not going to allow him to get any cut through, so he committed to using Twitter ‘full on’ for 30 days.

In that time he tweeted almost 7,000 times (233 times a day). Although he admits it was excessive and writes “I don’t recommend you try it”, it effectively launched him as a noted expert in Twitter and social media marketing in general.

So it is with any marketing activity at all. You may have a very clear idea of who will want to buy what you have, but the old rule of marketing still applies today, the ‘seven touches’ rule. Quoted often by the likes of Brian Tracy and Jay Abraham, seven touches describes how many times a prospect needs to have heard about your brand or your product to be familiar enough with it to consider making a purchase. If your marketing is not getting close to the seven touches - now in fact thought to be more 14 or more - you have not yet reached V2.

Lifetime Customer Value

There is an element of conflict with the ‘test and measure’ approach here as well, that would for example cancel a direct mail campaign if that one solitary campaign did not pay for itself in sales. Even though it is always important to test and measure all marketing activity, it is also critical to measure your marketing spend not just by sales from that promotion alone, but by the concept of ‘Lifetime Customer Value’ - LCV (see our previous post on this here).

As an example, if a florist were to do a mailout that cost eg $500 which netted only $250 in sales, on paper it would seem to be a failure and not worth repeating. However if you analyse the same campaign from a total LCV perspective, you might assume that the campaign had brought you eg 10 new clients who each spent $25 with you (your $250 in sales above), but will continue to spend with you at a rate of, for example, four purchases a year over an average ‘customer lifetime’ of four years. This then equates to a total LCV of $400, not just $25. The campaign, if it netted you 10 new clients like these, earning a total LCV of $4,000* would then make commercial sense.

So back to V2. The critical thing here is consistency, testing and measuring different promotion techniques against each other (bearing in mind LCV) and continuing to have multiple forms of promotion running throughout the year and ideally concurrently via different channels (eg email AND print mailout). You can test out techniques at a reasonably low level, and then be prepared to scale them up when you hit on a winner. And never stop trying out new promotion techniques. Do all of this and your aircraft will hit V2 and take off. Happy flying!

Further reading
Malcolm Gladwell talked about a similar situation in his book The Tipping Point describing what happens when everything comes together and an idea (or business) takes off.

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(originally published on the NewsBusiness blog under the title 'V2')