Marketing Guesswork

Don’t Neglect the Sales People!

I had an experience recently that shouldn’t have surprised me but it did. It happened as I started working with a $40 million software company. My job is to help the company improve it’s value proposition and follow through with detailed marketing and tactical plans. To gather the necessary information, I was participating in a conference call with the company’s sales people. I had a few minutes to ask some questions and proceeded to drill them about the details of how they sell, what ‘s most important to prospects and other key details.

Read More »

Marketing Schmarketing. It’s not what you think.

What is marketing? Don’t ask me. And don’t bother Googling it either. And, please don’t ask your boss, your wife, your web designer or marketing consultant. It seems that the real purpose of marketing has been lost somehow over the last few years. I’m not even going to tell you that MY definition is correct because ultimately it doesn’t matter what I think. What matters is what problem you are trying to solve. Marketing can help create and drive demand, differentiate from competing products/services, communicate value, drive the sales process and more. But at the end of the day, marketing’s real value is in mitigating risk.

Read More »

A life without risk is a life without growth.

Looking back over the years I can see that my path has been what one might call “the road less traveled”. For me, risk and reward are inexorably linked and I have never worried about the possible consequences of zigging where most people zag. Of course this is the mindset of an invincible young man. As I grow, uh…, more mature, I can see that the risk I took so effortlessly was far more than I needed to shoulder. This was because I never thought about having a plan – I just jumped from the cliff and figured I’d know how to build my wings at some point before I hit the ground. Luckily for me, those wings somehow were constructed and the sudden stop at the bottom of my flight was avoided. Managing risk takes a four letter word.

Read More »

Marketing in a recession. What’s the difference?

Everywhere I turn I see companies attempting to leverage the much hyped “downturn” in the economy. All of a sudden, they are touting special “Recession” services and techniques to overcome impending doom. Marketing and advertising agencies are especially guilty offenders. So, in my inimitable tradition of cutting through the smoke and smashing the mirrors, allow me to deliver some straight talk (McCain and Obama aside). When it comes to marketing, there is no difference between a recession marketing strategy versus a boom time marketing strategy. There are simply two ends of the marketing strategy continuum. On one end, there exists the Well Planned and Executed Strategy. On the other, the Wild Ass Seat of the Pants Unstrategy. That’s it. All companies are on this continuum somewhere. If you find yourself on the right side of the continuum, you will experience more pain when the economy gets tight. It’s as simple[…]

Read More »

Mmmm, sweat sock pie.

Parts is Parts But Pie isn’t Pie. I’m often asked to consult on very narrow parts of a marketing and advertising program. For example: “Pete we just want to you tell us why our web site isn’t producing the number of leads we think it should.” Or, “Pete, just take a look at this direct mail piece and give us your recommendations as to how we can make it better.”. The problem is my guesses probably won’t be any better than your guesses. Sure, I can make pretty good guesses because I’ve spent the last two decades solving these types of problems but ultimately we will still be guessing. Guessing is the antithesis of great marketing. The trouble here is that we would only be looking at a tiny slice of the pie. Figuring out why the pie tastes terrible requires looking at the quality of all of the ingredients,[…]

Read More »

Hitler’s Moustache

I recently shaved off my goatee due to a terrible shaving accident. I was able to salvage a reasonable “jazz dot” from the remains of my facial manhood. (You may know this type of facial hair as an “imperial”, “royale”, “soul patch” or “nubbin”). So what does this somewhat personal information have to do with marketing? Hang in there while I spin another fascinating and insightful yarn. My “jazz dot” is my personal homage to my former life as a touring blues musician. It also is a nod to to some of my favorite musicians. What I didn’t know was that this style of facial hair was historically worn by French officers as a badge or adornment of military rank or status (thank you wikipedia). However, last week a 10 year old kid in my neighborhood looked at my fabulous soul patch and said, “You have Hitler’s moustache but it’s[…]

Read More »

SEO Ripoff.

I just paid a visit to a former client’s web site that I developed a while back. The site was the culmination of several months of strategic work – developing the company’s brand, corporate identity and marketing message. I also helped them iron out their sales strategy and create a tactical marketing plan. I taught them how to fish and they went about casting their lines without me. No problem. Everybody happy. The first thing I noticed when I visited the site was that someone had inserted a god awful logo proudly proclaiming the site was WC3 XHTML 1.0 certified. What the hell does that do for the company? I don’t think any of the folks that visit the site give a whit about how nice the code is. (The business is a home care provider – customers are typically baby boomers looking for someone to provide in-home care to[…]

Read More »

Sticking Your Neck Out

I have to admit, I always knew what “sticking your neck out”  meant, but it wasn’t until I owned my own business did I really get the literal meaning of the phrase.  Obviously, it means taking a risk and I’ve learned that risk taking is as much of growing a business as taxes, complaining employees and going to the bank. Of course, the key is to take measured risks. I’ve been doing some work with NASA lately and as I study the agency’s history and culture, one thing has become crystal clear – at NASA, it’s all about taking measured risks. And at the same time, doing everything to mitigate these risks. If these brave souls were afraid to stick their necks out our civilization would look very different. Granted, there have been instances where things went terrible wrong but ultimately, NASA achieves the impossible every day. One of the[…]

Read More »

So easy a caveman can do it.

Marketing has become an overly complex, obtuse exercise in corporate guessing. The new ABC show Cavemen is a prime example. Apparently Gieco and ABC thought it would be so funny to take their 30 second commercials and extend it to a half hour sitcom. Their marketing program was brilliant – very funny web sites like www.cavemanscrib.com and www.upwithcavemen.com had so much verve and humor. The trouble happened when they delivered the goods. Or, rather DIDN’T deliver the goods. The show is not funny. It’s getting killed by bad reviews all over the ‘net. I’m sure they did all sorts of focus groups and data analysis to reassure themselves that they had a great idea. They just forgot that it had to be funny. Sad, really. What’s next? A show about the Apple and PC guys? I hope not. No wonder people think marketing is a joke.

Read More »