When Marketing is Too Easy

Over the last year, I have performed several marketing diagnostics for various companies.  I spend anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks with a company and provide a broad analysis of their marketing efforts, a plan for moving forward, and, often, on-the-spot training.  It’s one of my favorite assignments, and one of the services I provide that I feel truly helps companies be more successful.  Because, one of the things I have discovered, is that marketing is too easy…

More often than not, I walk into companies who have little to no marketing function.  They may be outsourcing marketing, or parts of marketing.  Marketing may be someone’s part-time responsibility, or no one’s, or everyone’s.  (That last is particularly scary — generally chaotic.)

In my 25+ years of marketing and PR, I have seen several examples of companies “getting rid” of marketing, marketing departments or whole groups within marketing.  Digital Equipment Corporation was rather famous during the early/mid 90s for ousting its entire communications department, and then having to hire many of them back as consultants — probably spending far more than it did for its full-time staff.

In general, there is a cycle involved with this kind of wholesale “marketing slaughter”:

  1. Money is tight; marketing spends money and doesn’t make money.  “Get rid of them.”
  2. Things work splendidly for a short period of time, until the pipeline dries up.
  3. New marketing people hired (cue the new website and logo project)
  4. Spending begins anew, as does the cycle.

Today, there is a different kind of “we got no marketing.”  There is a breed of small business that is doing without marketing professionals.  (You can read my rant about the “Do-it-yourself-PR” panel at WebInno a few months ago.)  Start-ups (and sometimes larger companies) look at the free tools available to them, decide they can suss it out and have at it.  Sometimes they see more than average success too — just because they are putting themselves out there.

But there is a dark side to this approach.  It is the person who sees a tool like Google Adwords, spends a few hours figuring out which button to push, throwing down a credit card, and Voila! a campaign is born.  Who needs a marketing professional?  Unfortunately, due to their inexperience, it may be a campaign that is delivering bogus results — unqualified traffic from irrelevant websites which does little to support sales and marketing goals.

Today’s unusual job market provides companies with options beyond the uninitiated taking control of the marketing functions.  Companies can look for sole practitioners, small agencies, part-timers or shared access to marketing professionals.  Make sure marketing programs are goal and metrics driven, and that “traffic” isn’t your only measure of success.  And, most of all recognize that marketing experts can be a valuable part of your team.  An investment in marketing expertise can pay rich dividends.

One thought on “When Marketing is Too Easy

  1. We never did write that post…

    Isn’t it sad that marketing is not good at promotion. But maybe we are so used to promoting that we need to step back and figure out what it is that customers want. What do executives want from marketers? Sales, product marketing, what is it?

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