Simplify Your Marketing – Story of the Vending Machine

by Tim Francis on January 31, 2012

Once upon a time an entreprising gentleman wanted to get into the vending machine business.  You know – the kind that you see at fitness centres, schools, etc.  I’m not sure what got him so excited.  Maybe it was the warm glow of the fluorescent lights, or the prospect of a thrilling sugar high from eating damaged product that couldn’t be sold.  I’ll never know.

Our entrepreneur wanted to get 12 machines up and running within 12 months.  A very fair goal given the fact that the machines took – on average – 1 month each to build.

The Big Day

So the big day came.  He took delivery of 12 big boxes that each had the required parts for one complete vending machine.  He felt the rush of opportunity race through his whole body… exciting times!

He grabbed his dolly to move the 12 boxes to a place that he’d be able to work on them.  He laid all 12 boxes out.

Then he grabbed his box cutter and opened the first machine… oh the glory!  And then he thought to himself – hey, while I’ve got this box cutter out, I might as well open all 12 boxes at the same time and save myself a little time.  So he did.

Then he needed to build the footing of the first machine.  Success!  Then he thought to himself: Well, if I’ve already got the tools out to assemble the footing, I might as well do the other 11 as well – save myself a little time.  And so he did.

Then it was time for the frame.  He got those tools out and completed the frame of vending machine #1.  Gee – sure looking good!  Then he thought: well, I’ve already got the right tools out and it’s on the top of my mind, so I might as well do the frames of the other 11 machines too.  So he did.

And he continued like this for 12 months, completing one part of the assembly phase on all 12 vending machines, then moving on to the next assembly phase on all machines.  The good news – because he took the “assembly line” approach he did in fact save himself some time – in fact, an entire month!  12 machines in 11 months… amazing!

Or was it?

Do you spot his failure?

The Mistake of Multiple New Projects

Let’s consider a different approach…

What if he would have left 11 machines untouched, and simply built the first machine in it’s entirety?  Then delivered that completed machine to it’s destination sales location by the last day of the month?  You got it – it would have been producing revenue for him in month #2, while he was working on building the second machine from scratch.

And once that second machine was completed – top-to-bottom – then he could have rolled that out by the last day of the month and started generating revenue from it too during month 3.

And so it would continue month after month.

What would the difference be in revenue?

  • Month 1 = No vending machines making money
  • Month 2 = 1 vending machines making money
  • Month 3 = 2 vending machines making money
  • Month 4 = 3 vending machines making money
  • Month 5 = 4 vending machines making money
  • Month 6 = 5 vending machines making money
  • Month 7 = 6 vending machines making money
  • Month 8 = 7 vending machines making money
  • Month 9 = 8 vending machines making money
  • Month 10 = 9 vending machines making money
  • Month 11 = 10 vending machines making money
  • Month 12 = 11 vending machines making money

…add up all those months of sales, and that’s 66 total months worth of sales (combined) over the course of one year.  All because the focus was on completing one asset, getting it out the door and working, before moving on the the next asset.

How Does This Apply to Marketing?

So often I’ve witnessed business owners who are excited by the opportunities that lay before them: a new website, a Google Adwords campaign, the huge power within Infusionsoft, and they want to do it all.

So they start all 4 initiatives and fumble around from one to the next to the next, never completing any one of them… and therefore none of the projects is suffieciently completed to actually be driving traffic, converting leads, making sales, or anything else.

And clients that I work with personally will say “Let’s Go!” on all 4, I’ll assign them tasks to complete and they get only a percentage completed on all of them… instead of completing all tasks on one aspect.

That leaves me hand-cuffed.  If they don’t do their part of the project it’s often impossible for me to continue with mine.

One Project at a Time

Even though you and I are superhuman entrepreneurs, it doesn’t change the fact that we can only physically work on one project at a time.  Maybe there’s multiple “in process” projects but literally, physically you can’t work on a proposal while fulfilling orders.  Or writing an article for your site while reviewing artwork for your new site.  It’s bouncing around from one task to the next over and over again at best… never actually multitasking.

If you want to see a huge jump in your marketing potency, think about how you can pick your top priority project then do everything in your power to get it off the ground, working as an asset for you ASAP.  Then move on to the next in it’s entirety, then the next in it’s entirety after that.

And I know things are never that cut-and-dry.  That multiple things are always flying around.  I get it.  In that environment, just be crystal clear as to what your #1 priority marketing project is, what your deadline is to get it done, and make it happen come hell or high water.  If the other, lower-priority projects fall by the way side in the process, so be it.  If they are genuinely important to you, they will have their day in the sun too.  Maybe next week or next month.

Hope that Helps,

Tim :)



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