Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The 8 Little Fibs That Marketing Groups Tell

Believe or not, I love good marketing. A talented, observant, and clever marketing group can make it much easier for a sales team to succeed. They’re a real asset, and companies that have them always win more deals than those that don’t.

That being said, there are plenty of marketing groups out there who have, well, gotten a bit too big for their britches. They start telling little exaggerations, which are all the more dangerous because the marketing group often believes that they’re true.

Here are the top 8 irritating little fibs that turn up in marketing organizations, along with the unvarnished truth.

FIB #1: “Marketing is highly strategic.” According to this lie, marketing provides guidance and direction to nearly everything that goes on in a corporation, from product design, development, call center, sales, to manufacturing. The Full Truth: While marketing may kibbitz at those other groups, their inputs are often irrelevant or useless. They play a role, but they’re not usually strategic.

FIB #2: “We need a bigger budget.” According to this lie, a company succeeds or fails based upon the quality of the branding, and branding costs a lot of money, so it only makes sense to spend more money on marketing.The FullTruth: The stuff that marketing actually does (advertising, marcom, etc.) has a minor impact on brand, which results from the quality of the product and services that customers receive.

FIB #3: “We can help you sell.” According to this lie, the marketing group should be providing sales training and producing sales tools and materials (like brochures, info sheets, etc.) that can help the sales team sell.The FullTruth: Many marketing professionals have never sold so much as a glass of lemonade, so they have no idea what customers want and how they think.

FIB #4: “Customers want these features.” According to this lie, marketing does research to decide what features and functions customers want, thereby driving the development of the product and the content of sales presentations.The Full Truth: Most customers, frankly, don’t give a rat’s rear end about features and functions. They just want a problem solved and somebody to solve it for them.

FIB #5: “This market research is scientific.” According to this lie, marketers can gain a deep understanding of what’s going on amongst customers by paying market research firm to conduct studies and run surveys. This scientific approach is better than depending upon input from the sales team.The Full Truth: Much of what passes for market research is statistically invalid, qualitative and anecdotal (e.g. focus groups). Such tripe is virtually worthless.

FIB #6: “We can handle the media.” According to this lie, marketing groups can convince reporters to write nice things by helping the develop stories, giving them advance information, providing them with press releases, and so forth. These activities help create product demand.The Full Truth: By and large, real reporters find PR people irritating and ineffective. Much of the time they make it MORE difficult for the reporters to write stories by making unreasonable demands.

FIB #7: “Sales can’t close our hot leads.” According to this lie, the marketing group has the resources to search out potential customers that are likely to buy. They then transfer those leads to the sales groups who (alas) usually drops the ball and fails to complete the sale.The Full Truth: According to research from CSO Insights, 85% of company marketers felt they were doing a good job generating quality sales leads, while only 50% of the sales professionals in those same organization were satisfied with marketing’s efforts.

FIB #8: “Marketing drives sales.” According to this lie, sales is a tactical branch of marketing. The marketers set the direction for how customers will purchase products, possibly using a sales group as one of several possible ways that customers can buy.The Full Truth: With the exception of online retail selling, the sales group is the key element in any company’s success. As such, the marketing group is tactical arm of the sales group, not the other way around.

Needless to say, when you’re working with top-rate marketing groups, NONE of these little fibs rear their ugly little heads.

In fact, you can determine whether or not a marketing group knows what its about, simply by listening for these fibs. If they show up, the marketing group is in danger of becoming a corporate liability. If they don’t, the market group is usually a corporate asset.

It’s that simple. by Geoffrey James April 18, 2011

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