Are You a Dirt Road or Superhighway Marketer?

SuperHighway MarketerCompanies have different objectives, work styles and temperaments. Unfortunately, what is needed to achieve marketing success often contradicts what the organization is willing or able to produce from a marketing standpoint.  Here are the five barriers that keep companies stuck on the marketing dirt road and keep them off the fast lane:

Barrier 1: Fear The tendency to avoid making mistakes is quite natural, but many marketers and company executives are so paralyzed by this fear, they stifle action and results. We test things (lists, media, offers, etc.) precisely to figure out what works and doesn’t. While there are no guarantees, the more you do something like lead generation, content creation and public relations, the better you get and the less fear you have.

Barrier 2: Perfectionist tendencies I’ve written about this one before – a well-meaning stakeholder will agonize over every word in a document to make sure it is just right. But the fact is, it is never going to be “just right.”  Better to get a good communication into the marketplace then wait for the perfect one before acting — it has no value while it is sitting in your inbox or on your desk. Recognize when preparation has crossed over the line to avoidance.

Barrier 3: Limited experience People sit on marketing initiatives because they just don’t understand exactly what is happening. This is particularly frustrating when you are paying other people (internal or consultants) who do know their craft. Just because you don’t know something doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen – after all, you don’t stop the mechanic from tuning your car engine just because you have no idea what he is doing under the hood.

Barrier 4: Too many stakeholders Sometimes a large number of people are invited to share their thoughts about a promotion or content item. It may then go into the “review black hole” and take weeks for all these people to supply their comments. If enough comments come in from enough people, it can make the content much weaker and disjointed – e.g. appear to be “written by committee”. This is not to say that a couple of other opinions aren’t valid – but there is a diminishing rate of return when too many people are involved.

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Barrier 5: Reluctance to spend money Companies with limited budgets have to be wise about spending, but marketing activity doesn’t always relate to monetary expense. There are many things you can do that don’t involve writing a check, including pull marketing techniques like social media, content curation and social media. But you will need to expend thought, energy and time. The good news is that this expenditure will likely yield better long-term results and teach you a lot about your industry, company, products and services.

Early in my career I worked for a marketing VP who had previously been the VP of development. The CEO wanted to round out this person’s career by exposing him to a new function. Although I was a young marketer at the time, I knew much more than this VP did about B2B marketing. He was afraid, he had no experience and he was reluctant to act. Since I had to spend countless hours educating him on basic issues, it slowed our marketing output to a crawl. Since I am a marketer who craves action, the situation kept me frustrated. After all, we were a company that needed to be on the marketing superhighway, but we were slogging along on the dirt road.

Don’t let this situation happen to you. Remove the barriers, get off the dirt road and be a superhighway marketer. I’ll see you there.

Christopher Ryan
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