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Train-wreck Marketing

Is your marketing a train-wreck? You are not alone.

courtesy of Wikipedia

Marketing often gets off-track because companies don’t have a clearly defined marketing strategy that governs how they make decisions.  Notice it is not “what” decisions are made.

If your marketing is a train-wreck, it may be because you have listened to various marketing “experts” over the years.  There are marketing experts, and then there are marketing experts.

In many cases, well-meaning people have been lucky with one or two marketing tactics (SEO, direct mail, email campaigns, printed collateral, etc.) and then they built a marketing consulting business around it, claiming “marketing expertise.”

The problem is that tactics are a very small part of marketing and their effectiveness is very subjective, unless you measure them on a short-term basis and in isolation from what is important to the company as a whole. Well-executed tactics can have short-term success, while actually eroding the brand and harming the long-term success of the company. Marketing is really about the whole business and what matters in the long term. Things like:

  • Your brand
  • Your customer relationships
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Customer needs
  • Your salesforce
  • Your 4 Ps (Product, Pricing, Place, Promotion)

Tactics are simple – setting up a corporate facebook page, writing keyword-rich content, printing a brochure.

Strategy is harder, but makes all the difference. Great marketers won’t talk you into tactics. Great marketers start by understanding your customers and how your product or service satisfies their needs.

Consider this: when you execute tactics, your competition can see it; they know what your promotions are, they know what keywords you are using. What they don’t know, is your strategy, IF you have one. The point is, if you want to be competitive, you simply must have a strategy that governs how you make decisions about which tactics to employ and how to craft them.

Let’s end this thought-provoking article with some examples of Train-wreck Marketing.

Non-profit – Relies heavily on donated expertise, from multiple parties. There is no governing strategy or authority. As a result, the organization operates in fits and starts, hoping that each tactic makes a positive impact for the organization. Thank God for non-profits. They do great work. But too many of them do not work great.

Small business – Entrepreneurs start small businesses. They may experience early success and think they have all the expertise that is needed. They typically know their customers very well. But when they begin to grow, there is more distance from customers and more demands on their time. Then, either new-hire staff or outside marketing “experts” are utilized to execute tactics that the owner thinks are going to be effective. There is a reason that the vast majority of new businesses fail within four years. Usually, hindsight shows that there was little or no strategy developed. Initial marketing tactics may have worked, but their performance could not be sustained.

Big business – Even very large businesses can fall victim to Train-wreck Marketing. This usually happens when a company becomes myopic about a particular tactic. For example, Sprint made a huge mistake in the mid-1990s when it created a great promotion that its salesforce abused for their own personal gain. I plan to write about this in more detail in a few days. The short story is that the promotion was wildly successful, but cost Sprint dearly.

I humbly consider myself a marketing expert. I don’t profess to have expertise around every kind of marketing tactic. But I do understand what makes tactics successful for the long term, strategy. Your marketing dollars are best spent on strategy, not tactics.

I hope that you will call upon me to ensure that you have an effective strategy in place to guide your decision-making about how to grow your business. Eric 816.797.9946