What's Wrong with Marketing Today?

Joey Sargent
Joellyn 'Joey' Sargent President, Claravon Consulting Group

Posted on August 10th 2014

What's Wrong with Marketing Today?

The trouble with marketing? Everyone is doing it.

That’s not a surprise. Marketing is imperative for a business to grow. Without some sort of marketing, how will customers find you? Unless you’ve got a super-exclusive business that trades on being  best-kept secret, marketing your business is essential.

Because it’s so important, feelings about marketing run the gamut. For some, marketing is a necessary evil. For others, it’s a passion. For most, it’s both a mainstay and mystery: we have to do it, but we don’t know how to do it right.

Why do so many business owners have trouble nailing the perfect marketing formula? Because everyone is doing it.

Who’s the Expert?

When you’re buying marketing services for your business, there is no shortage of people willing to take your money. Most of them will tell you to spend in on their services, with little regard for strategy.

Ask an advertising expert, and they’ll sell you….wait for it…..ADVERTISING!

Looking for help understanding social media? A social media guru will happily “help you” with managing multiple accounts and creating regular postings.

Are either of these approaches right for your business? That’s the question you alone can answer.

What’s wrong with marketing is that there are too many so-called experts and not enough informed buyers. Slick agencies dazzle business owners with glitzy presentations, lock in a contact and fail to deliver results. Unscrupulous consultants give you half the solution, telling you what to do but not how to do it.

Granted, not everyone you meet will purposely–or even inadvertently–waste your money. There are many excellent marketers around. After more than 20 years in the field, I’ve met and worked with lots of them.

These real experts have their clients’ best interests at heart and they work in partnership with clients to spark business growth, knowing that exceptional results will win them referrals and help their own business grow.

The trouble is that finding the real experts can be a challenging exercise because there is so much competition for your marketing dollars. Add to that the fact that the discipline of marketing has fragmented considerably in recent years.

When it used to be easy to find an agency that could handle all your marketing, now there are choices to be made experts in things like SEO, online advertising, social media, mobile marketing, and much more.

Entrepreneurs and executives looking for marketing help must be both wary and wise about what they’re buying.

Modern Marketing is Highly Fragmented

A few years ago a simple ad campaign developed by the local radio station or a print campaign in an industry trade magazine might have been enough to generate new leads for a growing business.

Now buyers of marketing services must contend with multiple aspects of branding, marketing and communications. Topics like these can be overwhelming to business owners who don’t revel in the nuances of modern marketing:

  • Online vs. offline advertising
  • Mobile marketing, SMS, and location-based promos
  • Multi-channel strategies (consumer and B2B)
  • Engaging buyers through social networks
  • Creating social media strategies
  • The changing landscape of PR and media
  • Demand generation and lead nurturing
  • Email marketing, list building and direct mail
  • Content creation and curation
  • Dynamic pricing and incentives
  • Reviews and ratings
  • Customer loyalty and retention
  • Customer experience and customer journeys
  • and much more…

It’s nearly impossible for the average executive to stay on top of all the items listed above. This climate demands access to savvy partners who can guide you through the progress of determining what’s uniquely best for your business. Once you decide, the solution is never static.

Set It and Forget It?

Business can’t afford to take a “set it and forget it” approach to marketing because the landscape in constantly changing. What worked yesterday won’t be as viable tomorrow, because something in the landscape will evolve.

Marketing today is like looking through a kaleidoscope. We all start with the same pieces, but how you see the ideal mix depends on how those pieces are arranged. As soon as you think you’ve found the perfect picture, something shifts and everything looks different.

Understanding that you’re in a shifting landscape can make it easier to succeed. When you know you must constantly adjust your balance, you can focus on the things that will help steady your efforts. Three important areas to concentrate on are

  1. Knowing what works well today.
  2. Continually testing and refining your marketing mix.
  3. Anticipating what will work tomorrow.

Finding the right partners in this process starts with developing the ability to avoid shiny object syndrome (SOS). You shouldn’t chase every new thing any more than you should cling blindly to the past. Be judicious. Explore the options, test the waters and make your own decisions rather than falling sway to someone else’s enthusiasm for the next big thing, especially if their business depends on getting you to say “yes.”

Balance is Best

More than ever, effective marketing is a balance of art and science. Objective metrics are critical, and so is understanding that the data can be deceiving. For example, attributing a sale to the last touch with a customer is misleading. If you don’t account for the branding, awareness and visibility efforts that contribute to capturing an online lead, for example, you’ll likely overestimate the stand-alone value of online lead generation.

To fix what’s wrong with marketing–or more specifically, your marketing–focus on the end game: revenue and relationships. Ask yourself:

  • Who are your best customers?
  • What do you offer them that’s unique, valuable and distinctive?
  • How can you reach them to share your story?

When you know the answers to these questions, you’re ready to engage an expert advisor to help. (I’ll cover how to vet them in another post.)

The post What’s Wrong with Marketing Today? appeared first on Joey Sargent.

Photo Credit: Marketing Use/shutterstock

Joey Sargent

Joellyn 'Joey' Sargent

President, Claravon Consulting Group

As founder and president of Claravon Consulting Group, Joellyn ‘Joey’ Sargent provides the clarity, vision and insight that leaders need to create powerful momentum for growth. Her fresh perspectives and no-nonsense advice help executives, entrepreneurs and non-profit leaders connect corporate strategy, organizational performance and customer experience, delivering breakthrough results with Maximum Market Impact.  

Joey holds an MBA from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and has worked with companies from startups to the Fortune 500, including UPS and BellSouth (now AT&T). She is a popular speaker and is regularly quoted in the media on strategy, leadership and branding. For more information, visit www.Claravon.com or call 678.823.8228. Find Joey on Google+.

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Comments

safeerbandali
Posted on August 10th 2014 at 6:18PM

Hello Joellyn,

I agree with you regarding the fact that a lot of so-called consultants just want to take your money and spent it without your best interest in mind. Nevertheless, do not forget that some clients refuse to listen to good advice because they find on the internet "the secret solution to built your online strategy" or articles likewise.

So if it's crucial that the client be cautious about the people he works with regarding its marketing strategy, what is your advice for the other side ? How can one convince a client that going to Facebook might not be the best strategy for its brand ? That a LinkedIn page where you just post news without engaging your audience is not the solution ?

Regards,

Safeer

Joey Sargent
Posted on August 14th 2014 at 12:06PM

Great question, Safeer. I could write a whole post about that! The quick answer from the consultant's perspective is to show the client why these these activities are not in their best interests, and offer alternatives that will produce better results. Sharing examples from your experience, educating clients on best practices and highlighting case studies (yours or other's) can help. 

I find some of my best clients are inquisitive. They often explore ideas, articles, webinars, etc, and then we have provocative discussions to unpack the details. Why did something work for one business but not another? What's really best for their unique situation? Sometimes this requires challenging their thinking and pushing back a bit. It's tough love.

Ultimately, the client is the one accountable for their own success. You can't force them to act or follow your advice. You can provide excellent guidance and the support they need to achieve their goals. The rest is up to them.