The marketing landscape isn’t really a landscape anymore. It’s more like a fast moving landslide, snapping trees and engulfing unsuspecting business owners up to their ears in muck.
Most clients I know are trying to wear so many different hats, they can’t begin to sort out all the “marketing opportunities,” much less make sound strategic decisions regarding each one. Quite frankly, it’s silly to even try. This is one area where delegation and outsourcing are the only paths to sanity.
Just look at all the options…
There’s affiliate marketing, agile marketing, advertising, analytics, article marketing, ambush marketing, B to B, B to C, B to P, behavioral marketing, blackhat marketing, branding, blue ocean marketing, blog marketing and buzz marketing. And that doesn’t even get us through the first two letters of the alphabet.
It’s nuts. Unless you have a background in at least one major marketing discipline, or unless you have time to devote 20 hours a week learning this stuff, your business will be better off if you stay focused on what you know, and turn to a savvy marketing pro who can dodge the landslide altogether.
I’ve seen what happens when business owners try to forego that marketing help, or make do with an unqualified, underpaid stand-in.
Sloppy, ineffective websites go live, simply because the owner has more important things to do.
Value propositions go undefined and miscommunicated, both to the sales staff and to end users.
Trade ads get printed in consumer magazines because the “marketing person”/executive assistant doesn’t know the difference.
Ecommerce information on umpteen online retail sites is unproofed, uninspiring and untrue, leading to lackluster sales.
High dollar digital campaigns directed to teenage gamers pop up on “Our Time.”
Retailers buy media and continue shouting to the wrong audience entirely – successfully bringing people in the door who can’t possibly afford the product.
Social media posts go viral – but they’re so off brand and out of left field, no one has any idea where they even came from.
Yep, the good, ol’ American do-it-yourself mentality dooms many marketing efforts, and even ensures the failure of thousands of businesses every year. For every new tactic, and every variety of marketing, there are a hundred different ways to screw things up.
So what are you supposed to do?
First of all, you need a little knowledge on the subject. Reading this blog and other credible sources is a good start. You need to know just enough to manage the process. It’s no different than managing lawyers or accountants or programmers… you can’t be totally in the dark about what they’re doing.
Second, find someone you trust implicitly. There are thousands of capable consultants, agencies, firms and freelancers who would love to help you. They will pour heart and soul into your marketing efforts, if you just treat them fairly and pay them on time. So get references. Start small and test the waters before you commit to a long-term contract.
Third, accept their outside perspective as a positive. It’s easy to say, “yeah, well you don’ t really understand my business.” They may not know it as well as you do, but what he DOES know is marketing, That’s what you’re hiring them for. He can learn the ins and outs of your operation as he goes.
Set clear goals, expectations and metrics. Demand some accountability. The last thing you need is someone running around spending all your marketing dollars with no clear direction.
Start with strategy, not tactics. Social Media marketing is not a strategy. “Thought Leadership” is not a strategy. If you don’t know the difference between strategy and tactics, all the more reason to outsource your marketing.
Don’t expect a specialist in one little marketing niche to understand the entire marketing landscape. It may take one person to set the strategy and another group to execute all the tactics. After all, there are a lot of them.
I have a client who has spent 10 years studying marketing, just so he could “talk intelligently” with people like me. He has, literally, read hundreds of marketing books, attended conferences, and travelled the country to hear the big-name gurus speak. And yet he freely admits he could never do what I do. Because learning it from a book and actually doing the work successfully, over and over again, are two different things entirely.