Is Your Marketing Problem . . . a Marketing Problem?

Marketing is often a “fun” business topic.  It’s surrounded by new opportunities and getting a company’s name into the market.  Sometimes trainers, consultants, and professional coaches let that zeal taint how they perceive business issues.  Their desire to work on marketing makes all problems look like marketing problems.

In discussing calls to action with a business owner, he told me how much he enjoyed marketing.  As we talked through a few points he interrupted me when I mentioned events, “We’ve tried events and they are just a pain.  People sign up but then don’t show up.”  We briefly discussed some confirmation messages and reminder initiatives to improve attendance for those that signed up.  We continued the conversation and when I mentioned whitepapers and reports he complained, “Those things are a waste of time.  Sure people download them but they aren’t real leads.  We’ve never had anyone interested when our sales team called.” We then discussed transition strategies to the sales team.

Curious I asked, “Sounds like you have a marketing system down pat, what’s your best call to action.”  He smiled and said, “Our radio ads are great.  I do them myself and love hearing them on the radio.” So I asked, “Sounds good, and it generates a lot of leads?”  He responded, “Yes, we get some calls in from it. Not a whole lot but I think the most powerful aspect is people recognize our name when my sales people meet with them.”

I was confused because all of the web marketing calls to action were criticized for not generating solid leads.  However, radio was lauded for providing very few measurable leads.  Nothing against radio, it can be a powerful medium, but it seemed like he liked it because it served as a name recognition crutch for the sales team rather than a marketing tool.

My lesson learned was that the business owner liked talking about marketing.  So much so that other business problems were assigned to marketing. Attendee confirmation and reminders was a problem with his administrative process.  Sure, it used some common tools and competencies with marketing like email reminder content and layout but the actual process was not a core marketing task. In discussing downloads, the business owner claimed to have had over 500 leads from downloads but not one of those people were interested?  While marketing could help the process by offering a promotional deal or call to action after the report was downloaded, there is a strong indication that the sales team might have a deficiency in approach calls to prospects.

Are you working on the right end of the problem?  If marketing is presenting a professional message, building an audience, and generating leads then it’s meeting its primary goals.  Any related problems might be affected or helped by marketing efforts but will not be solved with them.


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