Marketing Minute #1 - Bullets and then Cannon


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Bullets and then Cannonballs

One of my favorite books is Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t by Jim Collins. It talks about the theory of firing bullets and then cannon balls. I recommend you read this book at some point. But to give you a quick overview, the concept goes like this:

Start small and test new ideas. When you launch a campaign with a completely new idea, concept, or pricing structure, start small. Fire bullets. They are tiny, fast, low cost, and low risk.

Once you have proven your ideas to be effective, then consider firing cannonballs. They are bigger, heavier, and more forceful. Bullets won’t sink a ship, but cannonballs can. Test your marketing efforts over and over again.
Test, tweak, rinse, and repeat on a small-scale basis. If your tests prove profitable, consider firing a cannonball.

Here is a real-life example

I would always print postcards in groups of one thousand. I would send out five tests over a set period, using the same postcard but with small changes: different headlines, fonts, and offers. The card that produced the best results was printed in mass quantities. We started small with bullets, tested, tweaked, and then fired our cannonballs. My cannonballs looked like twenty-five thousand pieces of direct mail.

Yours can be whatever number, as long as you start small
Remember, bullets first and then cannonballs

This was an excerpt from The Window Cleaners Marketing Blueprint.
Pick up the book here.

Best advice from WCR
Anyone using a business coach?

Tell me about your experience. Do you test and experiment like this in your window cleaning business?


I do not test and tweak. Mixed feeling about it but overall I would be happy with myself if I could actually make a 2017 Marketing Calendar and live it.


Great. yes. But I also remember to keep with the lessons I learned from yesteryear. In the first several years, I did as you did. Test, and measure. Nowadays I use mostly the old formulas because they still work and I can spend time doing other things.


I always have like Jim Collins advice here.

For me it helps me overcome perfectionism tendencies (Which are death to a business).

By shooting “bullets first” you can excuse sending out things not perfected. Just test and tweak, and when you find something that hits, dump money into it… fire it as a cannon ball.

Thanks for the reminder Chris.

PS- The Window Cleaners Marketing Blueprint is killer!


Thought I would give this topic bump.

I’m not sure how everyone else feels about marketing. But let me tell you it’s fun but most of the time it’s the most frustrating part of this whole thing, to me it seems a piece is never just right… Ugh

Like @Mike_Goeller said…


I missed this post completely the first time around. I havent experimented like that. Ive only done eddm a couple times and I had just ordered the cards and went with it. But my cannon was also the size of Chris’s bullets. Not sure if sending a couple hundred bullets would’ve done the job


WWS lets pm on fb cause we are so fucking cool.