Everyday the doctor sees yet another post in his feed on LinkedIn about how Marketing is not getting results in the current climate because of reason X, where reason X may or may not be relevant, and how marketing has to do something different to get a sale. And every week there’s yet another article like this one on Forbes that provides Nine Marketing Tips to Improve Business Sales that is supposed to solve all your Marketing problems, but actually doesn’t. Why is that?
Well, let’s start by examining the tips:
Foster Collaboration between Sales and Marketing … well, duh! If you’re not doing that, you’re so clueless that you shouldn’t even be trying to market.
Design Your Goals with a Customer Focus … well, duh! If you’re not marketing to your customers, then you’re not going to get any business from them.
Regularly Review and Adjust to Ensure Alignment and Growth … well, talk about generic. This goes true for all departments in all businesses because the market is always changing. There are annual, and in some fast moving industries, quarterly reviews for a reason … it’s not just for determining how well you did, but how well what you are doing is suited to the market.
Begin with a Competitive Analysis … finally something not completely obvious! You’re going to have competition (because if you don’t, you don’t have a business), so if you want to outsell your competitors, you need to offer something better for a segment of the market, and that means understanding what you do different, better, or more cost effective.
Develop a Content Strategy on Digital Channels … back to the duh! Most buyers are online and don’t look at flyers, watch TV, or even listen to traditional radio … if you’re not digital, then unless you’re selling only to the soon-to-be-extinct old-retirees who don’t use tech, you’re not selling at all.
Gather Customer Feedback … more duh! You should do your best to get insight from them as to what they like, don’t like, and want.
Understand your Team Members’ Capabilities … finally something else not completely obvious or generic. Not just that they did X, but precisely what X was; how they did it; what industries and markets they did it in; what channels they did it on; what results they got; and where their expertise truly lies. That goes beyond a simple resume and a few questions.
Be Consistent and Persistent with Outreach … again, not completely obvious, but mostly since every market says persistence, but not all focus on the consistency. Brands aren’t built overnight.
Target High-Value Accounts with Personalized Campaigns … and a third thing not completely obvious or generic. You will be selling to multiple demographics and buyers, though not necessarily penetrating each demographic to the same degree, whether you realize it or not. And some of those buyers will be high-value (regular customers and/or regular purchasers of your most profitable products). Those are the ones you really want to return to you.
In other words, the tips are usually not that great. (And while batting .333 in baseball is great, batting .333 as a leading authoritative business source that is supposed to provide leading advice is not very good. Not very good at all!) And while we picked on Forbes (because it’s a super big publication that can take it), the Forbes article was actually one of the better ones … most of the articles are recycled obvious generic advice (likely regurgitated by ChatGPT cheaters) that are so bad the doctor could not write about them without interjecting so many profanities that he’s sure your spam blocker would ban it!
And, even worse, the good tips are usually focussed on engagement or sales. And while you might think those are the metrics that count, engagement doesn’t necessarily mean sales and sales doesn’t necessarily mean profit or results.
Revenue on its own is not results. Results are profit, and, more specifically, increases in profit over time (and if you think the shareholders give a damn about anything else, you’re dreaming). Profit requires selling the products and/or services that are profitable for the organization over time — those with a good margin now, a low return rate, and a low repair/support cost. And profit increase means selling more products that are highly profitable, which may mean shifting demand from one product to another or even altering the primary product/service offerings over time.
And how does Marketing figure this out and get results? The answer should be clear by now, but if it’s not, the answer is work with Procurement as well as Sales. Make sure that it understands the profit of each product over time, the ability of the organization to maintain supply and scale up, and alternatives that may be more profitable, sustainable, or stable that it should shift customer demand to over time.
But have you ever seen a major publication say this? Probably not. But Marketing (and Sales) will never peak without Procurement support.