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  • Is Marketing Broken?

  • The marketing presentation

    A few years ago, I did a marketing presentation to a prospective client. I explained that we are not selling anything, but that our goal was to help him be successful with his business. We would use our business process to find opportunities for his company to become a leader in his market and we would help him to implement the strategy that we (him and us) would develop together. I explained the process, quoted a price, and before leaving asked him if he was interviewing other marketing companies. “Three others”, he answered. “Good”, I responded, “it will give you better context for what we are offering. But let me tell you what is going to happen”. He looked at me in surprise, as I continued, “each company will come to you and present a digital solution. They will offer you a digital tool or service of some sort, that will be what they have to sell”. “How long before you complete your interviews”, I asked. “One month he replied”.

    A month later

    A month later I called him and he began laughing when he heard my voice. “You were absolutely correct he said – how did you know?” He explained what had happened. “Each company came prepared and pitched me on a specific service they were offering. Each company proposed something different. Not one spent the time asking me questions like you did. So, how do I know what is right. Your solution seems to me the only one that will ask the right questions and based on the answers, we can create a strategy and a plan that can work for me, my company and my unique circumstances. So, Neville, when can we start?”

    The outcome

    We developed a comprehensive marketing strategy and plan, and we helped the client put a process in place in his company to execute the plan. We stayed on for a couple of years to make sure that his team and the process was working seamlessly. Then we moved on.

    Fast forward 5 years or so. I spoke to the client and he had this to say to me. “Your strategy was the spark that got our business motoring. It worked so well that I have now sold the business to my biggest competitor, and I will soon be retiring. Thank you so much, we couldn’t have done it without your process, the creativity you showed, and the implementation plan that worked beautifully”.

    Marketing is broken

    The critical learning – why marketing is broken

    So, what can be learnt from this true story? Here are a few take-aways:

    1. If someone pitches you and purports to be a marketer, check these bona fides: if their prime business is developing websites, they are a web development company, not a marketer; if their prime business is social media, SEO or SEM, they are a digital agency, not a marketer; if their prime business is selling promotional products, then they are a promotions company, not a marketer; if their prime business is creating videos, then they are a video production company, not a marketer etc etc.  While each of the above examples are tools of marketing, they are tactical tools and can only be effectively utilized if part of a holistic strategy. And if they suggest they will present a strategy as well – beware, their strategy will naturally point to their solution as your solution.
    2. Marketing has become akin to digital marketing these days. And if everyone is doing the same thing, that company is just following everyone else. Marketing is meant to make a product or service or capability stand out from the crowd. A real marketer will help you define the opportunity first and then, and only then, will they recommend the tools or services to achieve that goal. That’s when the true marketer will bring forth your options to consider, including the tools mentioned above.
    3. Don’t let the doing of marketing in a digital world become your dopamine – and make you feel satisfied. It’s the outcome of the marketing process that is the true measure.
    4. Today’s marketing is broken if you simply allow the digital technicians of this world to pose as marketers. Marketing is so much larger and more comprehensive than digital. It is much more holistic. As business leaders, you owe it to yourself to see through the sales pitch and look for the real value that proper marketing can offer. Yes, we need the digital marketing tools, but not instead of a comprehensive and well thought out marketing strategy. Those tools will only be truly effective if they are built as part of a marketing strategy.
    5. As Seth Godin said: “Marketing isn’t paying for ads, changing the logo or building a social media presence. Marketing is product design, customer service, pricing, customer delight and creating and living a remarkable story….You thought you were getting a marketer, but all you did was hire someone to make a commotion on social media.” He concluded: “If you are hiring someone to be in charge of promotion, say so. But if you want someone to be in charge of marketing, have them be in charge of all of it. If it touches the market, it’s marketing.” Read about the true definition of marketing.

    If you want someone that can make this work for you, complete the form on this page.  I’d be happy to chat about how I can help. Alternatively, please call 1-844-647-6984 Ext 1.