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There’s More Than One Way to Skin a Cat

Johnny Molson


You cannot apply a formula to a jewelry store that you used for a plumber.

In the mid-1800s “skinning cats” was a thing people did, apparently. “’There are more ways than one to skin a cat,’ so are there more ways than one of digging for money,” first appeared in the 1840 tome The Money Diggers by Seba Smith. Other variants included “there’s more than one way to choke a cat than with butter,” or the equally perplexing “there’s more than one way to kill a dog than with pudding.”

We agree the meaning behind this idiom is that there are always more ways to do a thing. So it goes with marketing. If you believe your marketing to be the cat’s pajamas, and it’s working, keep at it. Between you, me, and the cat’s whiskers, remember that what works for one may not work for another.

I’m gonna let the cat out of the bag here: If someone tells you there’s only one way to advertise that works, they’re either lying or a lousy marketer… or both.

There’s a cat and mouse game played as marketers try to out smarty-pants each other. You know you’re dealing with one if the first words out of his mouth are “well… the problem with THAT is…”. That’s the hallmark of an amateur. Ask him what the right thing to do is, and the cat gets his tongue.

Here’s why: Marketing your business must be specific to your business. You cannot apply a formula to a jewelry store that you used for a plumber. Your budget, your competition, your customer, and your story will all play a huge factor in which way you go. If someone already has a plan before getting to know your story, you’re in more trouble than a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.


Wherever you advertise, make a disturbance. Be a cat among pigeons.The first thing you must do is figure out your customer, and see what she sees through her eyes. You cannot do this yourself. You’re too close to it. Peter Drucker said it best, “The customer rarely buys what the company thinks it’s selling.” Find out what the customer is really buying. Find a position in the mind of your customer (see Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, Trout & Reis), then dramatize your story with words that are in her language.

No, there is not one best way to advertise. Don’t look for it, because it’s not there. If someone tells you they have one, they’re a lyin’ cat burglar trying to steal your money.

I’m out of cat colloquialisms.

Johnny Molson
Johnny Molson

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