Your Marketing Sucks

Stevens identifies eight common myths about marketing – from the notion that any marketing is better than no marketing to ignoring what everyone else is doing. Good advice! Marketing is a complex, multi-dimensional activity. Unfortunately, marketing continues to be more of a guessing game with a lot ventured but little gained.

When I ask clients the most critical question regarding their marketing activity – who is your customer? –the reply is most often vague. Take a downtown print shop for example. Who is their target customer? Other businesses? Walk by traffic? Downtown residents? A mix of all three? Does it matter?

Yes it matters! In a competitive economy, only those businesses that can hang on to – and grow – their market will survive. Does that sound like a scenario that requires focus and a re-thinking of your business positioning?

Marketing is not about spending money to get noticed; it’s about growing your business and generating profits. It’s not about creating glitzy brochures or award-winning advertising. For instance, how many flashy brochures have gone through your printing plant? Did they excite you enough to run out and buy the products? If not, why would those brochures inspire others to buy?

There are only two meaningful measurements by which any marketing strategy should be judged:

1. Does the marketing activity create new customers?

2. Are there additional products or services being sold to existing customers?

You cannot answer those questions without a well-planned strategy in place. Yet most often, that is the essential missing piece. So instead of a long-term plan with measurable outcomes, marketing is a ‘shoot from the hip’ activity, resulting dollars spent chasing the customers in your head rather than the ones walking down the street.

Traditionally (that’s enough reason for it to be challenged), marketing budgets are pegged at a percentage of sales. But why would that be the determining factor? If your business generates $1,000,000 in sales, the first question is, “How did we do that?” Setting a marketing budget based on sales, and not knowing how the sales were generated, is giving the creative department a blank cheque. Perhaps sales were the result of a great sales department rather than a flamboyant copywriter.   The question is, “Do you know?”

Most often, great marketing ideas come from those who have first-hand knowledge and experience gained from being active in the marketplace. Considering that most marketing campaigns are born in the creative department, it should come as a surprise that their interests – creativity – comes first. But with an overload of distractions in the marketplace, it takes people who are skilled at salesmanship to cut through the clutter.

Broadcast marketing is an expensive activity and a lazy approach to marketing. It assumes that everyone is interested in the product or service offered. But even newcomers to business know that this is a fanciful assumption. So why not switch to narrowcasting – delivering your message only to those who are interested in your product or service. Don’t know who they are? Then find out. Until you know, you’re throwing money to the wind.

Taking Stevens the attitude that, Your Marketing Sucks, is a great starting point. Most of my clients know next to nothing about marketing. Why should they? Their expertise is managing the business. Most would readily admit that their marketing experience is limited to a hazy relationship with the advertising sales rep of their local newspaper. Would you really feel comfortable leaving your company’s future in those hands?

Tom Watson made the incredibly important observation that, “Nothing happens until someone sells something.”   Knowing how to make that happen – before your competition does – is a critical factor of success.