When most people think of reverse engineering, they probably have thoughts of disassembling some high-tech component or software code and learning what makes it tick, and then creating knockoffs for an unfair competitive advantage.
Reverse engineering is defined by Wikipedia as “the process of extracting knowledge or design information from anything man-made. The process often involves disassembling something (a mechanical device, electronic component, computer program, or biological, chemical, or organic matter) and analyzing its components and workings in detail.”
I’m a fan and practitioner of a different type of reverse engineering: Marketing reverse engineering.
Example: A financial institution wanted to target high-net-worth individuals who recently moved to the area. A list of new homeowners purchasing property over a threshold dollar amount was developed. These recent homebuyers were given a free-gift subscription to a local business magazine with a letter from the publisher. The letter both welcomed the newcomer to the area and as a new subscriber to the publication. An introduction was provided to the recipient about the financial institution that had arranged the gift subscription.
What did this accomplish and how did the financial institution, the publisher and the new homeowners gain?
The financial institution reached its desired target in a creative way with a monthly, subliminal reminder. Every month, the recipients were reminded that this subscription was a gift from the institution. Many of these new homeowners proceeded to do business with the financial institution.
The publisher benefited by adding new subscriptions from a desirable demographic. The financial institution contracted to advertise in the publication in a prominent way on a monthly basis, providing additional advertising exposure and revenue to the publisher.
The recipients received a free magazine subscription, which helped to acquaint them with the local business community and provided an introduction to the financial institution.
What you can do
Research other successful companies in different markets and emulate what they are doing in your market. It’s that simple and it may be easier done than said.
Cherry-pick the best ideas and implement them in your local market. Why? Because there is nothing new under the sun. If the idea worked well in Dallas, it has a good chance of working in Sarasota. Adjust this strategy for market differences such as geography and weather, and take demographics, psychographics and other pertinent variables into consideration.
Use trade associations and trade shows. If you belong to a trade association, you should read the association’s publications. Next, talk to competitors in other markets, exchange ideas, find out what works and what doesn’t work for them, and consider implementing similar products, services or processes in your market.
Over the years and in different industries, I managed to get my money’s worth from attending trade show and association meetings. I found the greatest value came from talking with other people doing the same thing I was doing in other markets. Just one idea generated approximately $40,000 in annual profits in several markets. I would think that this $200,000 in profits (annually) paid for all the trade shows I had ever attended or would attend.
Ask the right questions
Reverse engineering your marketing efforts involves asking the right questions. Take the marketing strategy for your product or service apart and dissect it. Look at all the variables involved and ask, How can I make it better? Can I eliminate some parts or steps? Is there something that should be added or changed? Where is the synergy that I can leverage? Does this make sense? What are others doing with a similar business in a different market to create new revenue streams that should work in my market?
These are just a few examples. Now, think about your business and what you can do to reverse engineer your marketing efforts.
If you email me and provide one short paragraph on what your business does, I will respond to the first five requests and provide one free idea on how you might reverse engineer your marketing efforts.
You have nothing to lose and perhaps much to gain.
Dennis Zink is an Exit Strategist, business analyst and consultant, a Certified Value Builder and SCORE mentor, and past chapter chair of SCORE Manasota. Dennis created and hosts “Been There, Done That! with Dennis Zink,” a nationally syndicated business podcast series and “SCORE Business TV” available at Time4Exit.com. He facilitates CEO roundtables for the Manatee and Venice chambers of commerce. Dennis led a SCORE team to create the Exit Strategy Canvas and Exit Strategy Roadmap program that provides a real world methodology for business equity realization. Email him at [email protected]