© Steve Feinstein. All rights reserved.
There is an old saying that goes something like, “Half the money I spend on marketing is wasted. The trouble is I don’t know which half.”
Marketing is indeed an inexact science. So inexact that it’s very difficult to define the boundary between Sales and Marketing. I remember going on an interview about 15 years ago for a “VP of Marketing” position. The interview was being conducted by the owner/founder of the company. About 5 minutes into the interview it was readily apparent that the position was for VP of Sales, not Marketing. I had brought examples of all the literature I’d done, Press Releases I’d written, etc, and he wanted to know about my experiences in managing a sales force, calling on chain store buyers, etc.
So even professionals in the Sales/Marketing realm have trouble drawing the line.
With that as a backdrop, let’s look quickly at three common marketing devices:
Sometimes they’re necessary. In the old days (before the web dominated), the brochure was tasked with being the next-best thing to actually experiencing the product or service in person. Done right, the brochure created, strengthened, or sustained interest and demand. Nowadays, we still do brochures, but they’re not necessarily 4-color fold-out thingies. They’re entire websites or product pages or YouTube vids or 140-character tweets or some combination. But the imagery and copyrighting serve the same purpose and we pay professional people to do that. Is that a waste of money? If you very narrowly define the “brochure” as a printed-paper handout, then yes, it’s less important than before. But it’s still not without value, especially in certain circumstances.
2. Branding Ads
This is funny, because unknown brands don’t benefit from it and well-known brands don’t need it. Can a company change its brand image? Yes, but only if its product/service performance leads the way. Hyundai’s brand image has changed because they now make great cars, not the other way around. It’s not like they advertised how great their engineering and manufacturing capabilities were, got the public to accept that new brand premise, and then felt “authorized” by the market to produce cars like the Genesis and Equus.
The one truism you can always take to the bank is, “It’s the product [or service], stupid.”
Everything starts with that. Nothing upgrades your brand image like a superb product or service.
3. Sales Tools
Agreed that Sales Tools (feature listings, competitive comparisons, etc.) are best done by Marketing people who’ve actually sold something to a hostile audience. Sold something, not merely presented something or written something or advertised something. Sold something. Gotten someone else to fork over their personal dough, based strictly on what you’ve said.
The problem with having Sales do the sales tools is that many times the Sales guy is Jerry, a good ‘ol boy from Georgia. Couldn’t write something coherent to save his life and wouldn’t recognize a correctly-executed document (or web page) if it hit him between the eyes.
That’s why the best marketing people have lots of successful real-life sales experience, and an ego under enough control to actually be able to collaborate with someone else and produce a good outcome.
Remember the WWII phrase, “90-day wonder?”
It referred to an officer who went through a stateside officer’s training program for 90 days, and was then sent to the front lines to command battle-hardened troops in real combat.
Ain’t gonna happen.
That’s why young whipper-snapper grad-school Marketing types are less effective than they should be and less effective than they think they are.
50% of the time.