Firing Bullets Before Cannonballs – Calling All Marketers

Every marketer is a scientist. She or he uses the scientific method to test and report on experiments ran based on their hypothesis. Does this sound familiar?

“Based on my research, this ad will reach 1000 people, will have 300 views, 100 clicks, and result with 1 person interested in a follow up. If I run 10 ads, I will obtain 10 new persons interested in a follow up, resulting in $2500 of new business.” This essential strategy and planning enables marketers to measure based on projections. The closer they are to their target, the better their strategizing, planning, and efficacy as a marketer.

Even though every marketer devises a plan, it doesn’t mean every marketer is successful. The interesting part about this is each marketer who conjures a projection is doing the right thing. This is how every strategic thinker must begin – with the scientific method as their guide. With this being said, wise marketers use the scientific method just a bit differently than most.

In his book, Great by Choice, Jim Collins analyzes those successful companies who performed better than 10 times their competitors in the stock market. In this brilliant read, he discusses a method these “10x” companies do that is better than the rest. He coined this method as “firing bullets before cannonballs.”

If there is an ally ship and an enemy ship at sea, and there is only so much gunpowder to use in order to take out the other, Collins says the following: if the ally ship attempts to fire a cannonball first, using all the gunpowder, and misses, it will be out of gunpowder, while exposing its position to the enemy.

On the other hand, if the ally ship fires bullets, using less gunpowder, it has time and resources to calibrate as needed if initial tests fail. Once it has successfully hit the ally ship with bullets, it can then fire cannonballs for a more significant impact.

The same is true for marketers. Even though we execute the scientific method every day, we absolutely have to ensure we are firing bullets before cannonballs. If we have never employed a radio campaign before, we’ll want to make sure any failure is already assumed as a learning process before deciding to invest.

Cold calling in the 21st century is no different. At RPMC, we believe heavily in cold calling. Heck, we even employ cold calling as a form of marketing for our own company. Believe it or not though, it took a few bullets before we calibrated and found it successful to market our own business. Cold calling has multiple variables, like any channel, so there must be many factors considered when planning your attack. Just like in Jim Collins book, we perform small experiments to ensure we are learning appropriately.

To dig a bit deeper – there are so many variables to consider when firing a bullet to identify if cold calling is a viable channel to use:

  1. How precise is your target market? Do you have the right position titles? Will the people in these positions believe your offering is something that is beneficial?
  2. How quality is your marketing list? Are the numbers right? Is the list old? Has the person in your marketing list not been there for 5+ years?
  3. What is the correct call-to-action? Are you asking too much of the decision maker? Are you asking too little? Should you set a quick discovery call once you reach the decision maker or should you go right for it and set a face-to-face meeting?

These questions are just a few in determining whether your cold calling efforts are ready to launch with a cannonball.

That’s why when we first work with prospects or new clients, we always offer a “Pan for Gold” option. This affordable, “firing bullets” version of cold calling allows us to hone in and correct any of the 3 variables as listed above. While some are ambitious and want to invest thousands in cannonballs, we actually recommend starting with 100 or 150 contacts to ensure it will work. While we believe we are the best at what we do, even Lebron James can’t play basketball on a baseball field.

Why would we offer an investment that is way less than thousands of dollars? Because we care, and we are your cold call consultants. We know that if you are successful, you will come back to us. If we try to steer you in the direction of firing a cannonball right away without proper metrics prior, it could severely fail, leaving you out of gunpowder, and RPMC out of a reputation.

The moral of the story, regardless of what marketing channel you are diving into – test the waters and “Pan for Gold” first. Ensure you are hitting the target before investing more into it. We want to see all of our clients succeed, so making sure you do is a process that starts slower and builds. RPMC has thus far been built on this method. We have had success by slowly calibrating before investing big. Follow our lead. If we continue to grow, so will you.


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