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Prison Rules Marketing



Prison Rules: To do something or play a sport by being physically aggressive and otherwise trying to win at all costs


I used to play a little pickup basketball, and we had a term for play that got overly aggressive and outside the normal rules of the game: prison rules. Rough fouls and hard hits that normally would be a foul if there was a referee were now on the table. I remember taking a charge from a bigger and stronger player, only to be run over and dunked on. What, no call? Nope. Just a fat lip and two more points down. Bottom line: I had to adjust my game or wind up in the hospital.


This new COVID-19 world in which we find ourselves reminds me of those times. The former gentle rules of a pre-pandemic environment have gone by the wayside, and the new harsher reality has set upon the business world. Our marketing tactics have to adapt to the new reality. Much like a player that is expecting to get a charging call, in this world you’re just going to get run over if you don’t step up your marketing game.


Let’s look at the old rules and the new rules.

Old Rule: Webinars are a great way to educate customers about complex offerings.

New Rule: Prospects are suffering from Zoom fatigue, and they don’t want to participate in your webinar unless it is absolutely awesome.


Someone told me something the other day that’s spot on. With people working from home, your new competitor is Netflix, not a lame animation from your competitor. Capturing your target audience’s attention is going to require better and more captivating content, not just going through the motions on another boring webinar. The content has to be relevant to the prospect’s new reality and not just you peddling your wares.


Old Rule: Email marketing is a great way to stay in touch with clients and prospects.

New Rule: Inboxes are full, and marketing emails are a nuisance.


Add value with your email content, not just marketing fluff. Showcase useful case studies, blog articles, white papers and engaging information.


Old Rule: Prospecting on LinkedIn will generate results.

New Rule: Your prospects are flooded with terrible InMails.


I get the worst pitches in my LinkedIn mailbox. They are off-target, make false assumptions about my motivations and add no value to me as a business professional. Again, you need to step up your game to cut through the clutter. The keys: better targeting, clearer messaging and sharper value propositions.


Old Rule: The salespeople need to get out there more.

New Rule: Your customers aren’t in the office and don’t want to talk to your salespeople in person.


It’s time to step up your online efforts. Customers and prospects still need to buy stuff, and they are researching for solutions online from home. Is your website set up to capture the search traffic? When people get to your website, will they understand your offering and why it’s superior to your competitors’ offerings? Can website visitors submit a request for more information, and will it be followed up by a salesperson in a timely manner?


My final chirp


In Texas, we have a saying: “Get tough or die.” Well, that is certainly true in the marketing world, particularly now. Differentiating yourself in the wake of a pandemic is going to require new marketing ideas and better execution than ever before. Waiting for things to get back to normal will be like me waiting for my opponent in the pickup game to become a gentleman. I had to toughen up and match his aggressiveness if I was going to be standing on two feet at the end of the game. You need to do the same with your business. I’d love to hear from you about how your organization is adapting to the “new normal” and to discuss how we can help you toughen up your marketing efforts.