As the spring weather continues to get nicer in Michigan, I see more and more of my neighbors walking their dogs in our subdivision. And, of course, my family has resumed walking our Puggle around the neighborhood, too. Puggles are a cross between a Pug and a Beagle. They have a Puggish face and a curly tail, but the deep bellow of a beagle... and our dog, Beau, loves to bark!
I've noticed that Beau especially likes to bark at other dogs. Seeing another dog in his yard gets him really worked up! He posts a vigil at our living room window, waiting for another canine to come into his sights, and then he whines, brays and otherwise howls the Puggle equivalent of the Riot Act to whichever pooch has dared trespass on his lawn. I've also noticed that the various dogs who pass our yard never pay him any mind. They will saunter, sniff and carry on their business without being in the least mindful of Beau's apoplexy.
When we walk Beau around the block, however, the roles are reversed. Although they ignore him in front of our house, the neighborhood dogs will bark and give him a piece of their mind when he passes by their yards. Beau, though, could care less! The same dogs he loses his sanity to yelp at from our window are of no consequence when he's making the rounds.
I've been intrigued by this doggy dynamic because I believe it is analogous to misdirected marketing. When Beau and the other dogs bark at each other from their homes, they are conveying a message that is important to them- but only them. The message is so unimportant to the dogs on the sidewalk that they ignore it. The "business problem" for my four-legged friends is two-fold:
First, the dogs are trapped "in their business." They are stuck in one mode: territory protection. Think of a company that just advertises low prices when its customers really only care about service, or vice-versa. Second, the dogs are not adaptable. It doesn’t occur to Beau to do anything other than bawl through the window. It’s possible that the problem isn’t the message itself, but that the neighborhood dogs’ constant repetition has desensitized their audience. Any dog who has heard Beau bark once has already gotten his message… by the time they’ve heard him a few times, he’s pretty easy to ignore.
The issue isn’t the “product.” Stewart Title, for example, only sells title insurance. Aside from the closing and escrow services that go with it, it’s not going to offer anything else. That doesn’t mean, however, that its message has to remain static, nor that its marketing efforts can’t change. And through calls, emails, internet postings, mailings, personal meetings, sponsorships, advertising, etc. any (human) business can modulate how its information is conveyed and how it is received by its customers. So while there is hope for any company whose marketing efforts have stalled, poor Beau, unfortunately, is too old to learn any new tricks!