04 Feb Stop Marketing and Start Thinking
Does the following scenario sound familiar? “Hello Business Owner, this is Sharon, your local google specialist.” By this time, you are probably wondering how they tricked you into answering this time, but before you can get off the phone, Sharon hits you with bad news. Sharon then informs you that your company’s business listing needs immediate attention and without missing a beat transfers you into an elevator pitch from Sujan in India. Sujan offers you the first you an easy way to move your business listing to the first page of google for a low $499. I hope you have not taken the bait and if you have, then you already know that doing so was a waste.
How did we get here? How did the definition of marketing become so blurred that owners find themselves paying outside marketing firms for a confusing collection of charts and graphs accompanied by a litany lies masked as promising miracles? How did spamming inboxes, robocalls, and flooding business owners with circular seminars and articles become the norm? I remember when marketing was defined as spending and getting a good return on your investment, i.e., more phone calls. Extinct mediums like the yellow pages kept things simple.
Back then, a business owner paid for the print ad and then people called when they needed your company’s services. The results were easy to track, and you could negotiate with the phone book companies to guarantee a certain number of phone calls. Things have gotten incredibly complicated since the good old days of the phone book. Nowadays, many kids coming out of college are chock full of theoretical premises taught by out of touch scholars. The divide between the field and university is not new. However, marketing presents a peculiar case where marketing firms goal of monetization leads them to obscure and mystify the process to such an extent that neither you nor the marketers themselves can see the truth. Let’s clear things up and infuse some concrete meaning into concepts that universities often butcher into meaningless jargon.
Brand is often confused with culture. Brand is one of the hottest buzzwords in today’s marketing environment. Business owners receive constant bombardment by those extolling the importance of brand awareness, brand saturation, and brand positioning. Mostly, they are merely fancy disguises allowing outside marketing companies to pitch logo designs and other aesthetic centric services. I’m not saying that isn’t important. However, they have an incomplete understanding of branding. Branding is your company’s identity. Branding comes from culture and culture comes from the people you hire and the tone you set as an owner. Attracting the right talent, cultivating the right work environment, and investing in your team yields results far more fruitful than a perfect logo. Remember, your culture genuinely defines branding, not a logo!
Automation is another concept commonly misunderstood today. Often, automation gets wrongly utilized as a method of replicating organic tactics with generic processes. Marketing companies promise business owners a simple way to streamline the time-consuming process and trim employee expenses without sacrificing quality. A company stands to lose big time by falling for these tactics dressed up in mind-numbing lingo and banking on the fact that you are not smart enough to glean their meaning. Securing your belief in the benefits of using stats from an algorithm lacking the proper context allows undeserving companies to make a killing from your ignorance. Break the spell by learning the correct definition of automation. Automation is a tool to augment your employees rather than replace them. Automation allows you improve productivity without sacrificing the organic flavor of your company.
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are not selling platforms. Viewing them as such is entirely out of line with empirical observations. Putting traditional advertising content in front of viewers expecting entertainment is a bad move. Social media is a mixed bag where some people find success and others do not. Compelling ads that fit on television or radio do not always work on social media. I know from experience. Why then, is social media marketing hailed as the cornerstone of a modern marketing strategy? Most marketing companies preach the importance of social media because statistics are easy to fake. It is possible to fake followers, viewers, and comments. The truth only gets revealed when you realize your business’s recent margin shrinkage correlates with your current social media growth. Social media is for entertainment not selling.
Optimize or Patronize?
Co-opting the word optimize is one of the most significant cons in the modern business world. Webster defines the act of optimizing as making perfect, useful, or as functional as possible. Outside marketing firms frequently promise to optimize just about anything you can imagine. They can optimize your brand, your reach, your revenue, your profits, your ego, and your ability to continue to pay for worthless marketing services. Only the last two promises are guaranteed, and you could do without an overinflated ego and routinely wasted dollars. You are smarter than that. Stop allowing companies to patronize you and interfere with your ability to see through madness offered by modern marketing companies. It is time to detox from your addiction to the fantasies peddled in the current marketing world.
How to Detox from Modern Marketing Addiction
1. Creating the right culture and focusing on your people are two of the best investments for business owners. Cut back on outside marketing costs and invest your savings into talent. Spend time creating a culture that allows your employees to thrive.
2. Reviews are worth their weight in gold because they resonate with consumers much more than a beautifully designed and static website. To consumers, reviews are timely and trusted resources, while websites are going the way of the business card.
3. Referrals remain one of the most viable options available to business owners for to connect with potential customers. Grow referrals organically by cross marketing with another business outside of your industry.
4. Track every call! Your first move on a call is to ask, “How did you hear about us?” Learn to recognize modern marketing spam and immediately and hang-up when you realize you are on a spam call.
5. Create long-term relationships with customers. The turn and burn philosophy of outside marketing firms is not sustainable. Fostering lasting and meaningful relationships with existing customers pays more dividends than continually chasing new clients.
6. Break out of the me-too mentality when it comes to creating video content for in-house marketing. Have fun because it is contagious. People desire affiliation with companies that enjoy what they are doing!