Have you ever seen a tiger with a panda’s head and an alligator’s legs?

Remember those books when you were a kid with the animal parts … the ones where you could flip different parts of the page over and mix and match different heads, midsections, and legs? The object was to make the goofiest looking animal imaginable…like maybe a panda head on a tiger’s body with alligator legs. Then you would call it something like a pan-tig-ator.

Now that you’re older, you probably don’t spend much time with those kinds of books anymore (hopefully!). But, if you’re the person responsible for sales and marketing, then you still play a mix and match game all the time…even if you don’t realize it. You see, each marketing activity has several specific components – and each must work perfectly with each other if you expect optimal results. If any of the components are wrong, you could end up with pan-tig-ator marketing.

Pan-tig-ator Is fine for a kid’s game, but it’s disastrous for a business. Just because you have all the pieces (head, body, legs) in place doesn’t necessarily mean you have the picture correct. Let’s look at an example, and then discuss some of the different components:

A builder of closet organizers once said he had tried direct mail to find new business, but it didn’t work. He figured that since he had sent a piece of mail (the head) with a coupon (the body) to a certain mailing list (the legs), that he had executed direct mail to it’s fullest potential…and that despite his expert and calculated efforts, there was just no way that mail could work for his particular product. MAJOR PAN-TIG-ATOR.

Upon examination of his efforts, it became apparent his entire mail campaign was poorly executed. The mailer turned out to be a Val-Pak type mailing – and his ad was printed on the back of a boot store’s ad and buried somewhere near the back. The ad was mailed to tens of thousands of homes that weren’t even prospects for his organizers because the average incomes were far too low. The ad made no compelling case for the product; it basically said “Here we are. Buy it from us for no justifiable, rational reason.” And the coupon might as well have been for $50,000 off since nobody could mentally quantify exactly how much “10% Off” was.

He had the right generic pieces (head, body, legs), but he had the wrong specific pieces (panda, tiger, and alligator mixed together). Or, in other words, a pan-tig-ator…that laid a huge egg! To avoid that mistake in your business, here’s a brief description of the SIX Components of any marketing or sales effort:

1. Targeting: You have to be talking to the right crowd of people. Yes, this is obvious, but you’d be surprised how often it gets messed up. Realize that you may want to sell the same thing to different targets…and that you will have to use different messages. For instance, we have to use different approaches to sell the same marketing programs to start-ups than we do to existing business owners. Just make sure your cognizant of who your trying to reach.

2. Vehicles/Media: There are at least 25 different media you can use to get your message out to a highly targeted market. But, there are usually 4 or 5 that will work best for a given project. If you’re trying to sell computer consulting using a classified ad in a Doll Collector’s magazine, you may have trouble.

3. Techniques: Each vehicle has its own techniques that make it work the best. For instance, in direct mail, there are 17 components that every letter must contain. Leave any one out, and you’ll soon be flirting with the pan-tig-ator.

Be Aware! Most business books and consultants will only talk about targeting, media, and techniques. We talk about them a lot, too. BUT for your marketing to really take off, you have to master the last three components.

4. Articulation: What you say is only fractionally as important as How you say it. Let’s say you get a technique right, and put a headline in your newspaper ad. The way you articulate your headline could mean as much as 21 times the results. Articulation is difficult to learn, but it is the essence of expert marketing. Test different articulations – often.

5. Execution: The greatest plan in the world will fail if incompetent people are executing it. Most marketing plans are under-executed.

6. Systemization: Tying it all together. Each marketing effort must be consistent with the others, be delivered at the right time, using the right medium, and with the right message – exactly the same way – to every prospect and customer.