plumbing-300x199It’s not glamorous, but we often find ourselves drawing comparisons between what we do and the world of a plumber.  Think about it for a moment, what is it that plumbers really do for their customers?

There are three core attributes plumbers bring to the table that every marketing executive would benefit from.

Understand Complexity

Indoor plumbing is very complicated.  I don’t know about you, but when my sink starts to malfunction, unless the problem is on the surface, I’m lost.  Plumbers understand the “piping” that causes the desired result to occur.  Plumbers don’t get lost in symptoms; they’re always focused on the cause.  They get that every to manage the process effectively you must pay attention to the entire system.

Create Simplicity

Plumbers understand that people don’t enjoy, and often can’t manage complexity on their own.  So, what do they do?  They put the piping behind a wall.  They plug the piping into pretty fixtures that are remarkably simple to use.  I don’t need to understand the entire process to benefit from the work they have done.

Predictability

Finally, plumbers create predictability.  When I turn the knob, water flows.  When I push the lever, the toilet flushes. I don’t have to think about it and I can plan my next actions based upon it.

Now, I realize that the metaphor I share here is a bit simplistic.  Marketing is a very different discipline than plumbing and there are certainly unique aspects that must be managed.

There’s an old phrase that we’re fond of:  You can steal the fixtures, but you can’t steal the plumbing.  Over 20 years activating marketing programs for some of the most successful brands in the world, we’ve learned that average programs focus on the fixtures, while the great programs focus on the plumbing.

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