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Marketing Expert Calls For A Marketing Moratorium

All across America, companies of all sizes are throwing dollar bills out the window...and calling it marketing.

Ask these companies to equate their so-called investment in marketing with incremental revenues and profits, and they'll tell you that they can't do that. In most cases, that's because the marketing doesn't generate anything more than fees for printers, telemarketers, seminar hosts and party planners.

Let's look at the issue another way: would intelligent businesses pay millions of dollars for business processes that suck? Not if they understand that this is the case. The problem is most companies fall victim to a series of marketing myths that prompt them to throw good money after bad in a dead-end attempt to grow their businesses through ineffective and sometimes ridiculous initiatives all under the guise of "marketing".

"With this in mind, I suggest that companies halt all non-essential marketing for a week and ask themselves what, if any of the money they are spending, is delivering results," says Mark Stevens, President of the global marketing firm of MSCO.

During the moratorium, consider the following myths and realities of marketing:

The Eight Myths of Marketing:

Most companies place little value in marketing. Why? Because most of the marketing they have done in the past has failed to meet the acid test-the only test that counts-to generate more profits than it costs. ROI is critical.

Which begs the question: why is most marketing ineffective? No cold fusion. It has fallen victim to a series of myths:

1.Doing any marketing at all is better than doing nothing. That's crazy. Marketing costs money. Unless the marketing is smart, on point and creates a substantial ROI, marketing is just a way to camouflage the act of throwing thousand dollar bills out the window. So many companies that MSCO has dealt with have spent plenty on expensive brochures but then once they have them in their possession - they have no idea what to do with them. A brochure needs a carefully thought out, targeted direct mail letter to accompany it, in order to encourage the receiver to read the enclosed brochure. Also, many companies are in the habit of hiring one vendor to do their web site, another to write and design their company brochure and then another to write a newsletter or ad copy. Chances are those vendors were chosen by price only thus lacking a cohesive marketing message - again money spent poorly with no return on investment.

2.Advertising and marketing are the same. To hell, they are. Advertising means buying space or time to relay a message. It can be important to marketing or irrelevant, depending on the company and its goals.

3.The best marketing presents a company and/or its products as beautiful or creative or sexy. Who says? I'll tell you: the ego driven creators of beautiful/creative/sexy marketing. What they won't tell you is that they don't care a whit about ROI. They just want to be told what creative geniuses they are. Some of the best marketing uses (as one aspect of an integrated approach), infomercials with overweight, ordinary people telling you how they lost 850 pounds taking placebo pills filled with polyester packing material. Art? No. ROI. Yes. Yeah! In short, if the ad results in increased sales - it is effective.

4.Great marketing is dreamed up by highly paid executives who make ads and brochures and websites and then let them loose in the marketplace. Crazy. That's the way it is often done and that's another reason most marketing sucks - see #1. To achieve effective marketing, you must reverse engineer the process so that decisions about what the company needs to market successfully and how it should be created, are made at the point of sale. Only a sales person can really tell you what he/she needs to make a sale. Start there!

5.Salespeople aren't really part of the marketing process. On the contrary. They are the centerpieces...the big enchiladas. Yes, there is a difference between selling and marketing, but if the marketing process leads to a sales team empowered to close, and the salespeople are schmoozers not closers, sales will be few and far between. Thousand dollar bills out the window! Million dollar bills out the window!

6.More on selling: With the right training, you can turn non-closers into closers. Forget about it! You can't train non-salespeople to sell and you can't stop salespeople from selling. Find the latter and pay them well.

7.Great marketing agencies are the ones who win lots of awards. So choose them. That's okay if you want to borrow awards to place on your mantel. But if you want sales to grow, go for the award-less agencies that live by the credo: the best marketing is the product of the least expense that results in the highest ROI.(My marketing firm: MSCO, has won a few awards, I am embarrassed to say. The only one I am proud of, we received from Forbes for creating an ad that motivated more readers to act than any other ad.

8.Good marketing is based on rules:
a. You should spend x percent of your revenues on marketing.
b. Great direct mail generates an x percent response rate.

Hogwash to it all. Every company, every time in history, every product/service/every goal is different: so how can there be universal rules. And if you are told that the best return you can get on direct mail is 1 percent, don't use direct mail. Ask questions, push back. Rules are for schools. Results are for business people! Great marketing, inspired marketing can be the most powerful force in growing companies large and small. The great marketers - Bill Gates, Mary Kaye, Tom Watson, Ray Krock, and Sam Walton - avoided the myths and drove their companies to the mount.

About Mark Stevens

Mark Stevens is a nationally recognized marketing strategist and corporate advisor, CEO and author of the best-selling books, "Your Marketing Sucks." Stevens is a sought after adviser to top management of all size businesses such as The MONY Group, CTX Mortgage, Intrawest, Storage USA, Guardian Insurance, Sterling Commerce, Glen Gate Company, Antares Real Estate Holdings, Scifo Estate Planning and Hobbs Inc. Mark Stevens is the founder of a prominent strategic marketing and consulting firm, MSCO (Purchase, NY),for more information, visit:

Author: CEO of MSCO, Mark Stevens

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