Most companies don't have a clue about good marketing, argues entrepreneur Stevens (Extreme Management) in his slender but vociferous book. What they need are the principles of "extreme marketing," in which every dollar "is set in a strategic context," is part of an integrated plan and brings in more than a dollar in return-strategies Stevens lays out in his readable, thought-provoking and sometimes outrageous book. He bashes marketers' "conventional wisdom" with an almost immoderate glee, and proposes big changes too: stop all marketing if you can't prove it works; don't use your competitors' marketing as a benchmark; don't depend on the results of focus groups; fire sellers that don't sell; cross-sell to consumers; and try direct mailings are just a few of his ideas. With charges like "Be persistent, relentless, inventive, counterintuitive, challenging, combative, strategic and tactical," readers may be tempted to think: easy for you to say. But this gem of a book is brimming with anecdotal evidence of advertising strategies gone awry, and full of examples of better plans. Diversification of programs is key, as are market testing and tracking. And if Stevens's examples aren't enough to convince (though they should be), his passion for his subject may carry the day. At the book's conclusion, Stevens instructs readers to not return to the office until they have figured out how to implement his advice. This is as different from more traditional and staid marketing how-tos as its title suggests.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
“Your marketing sucks . . .”
What in the world does Mark Stevens mean?
For starters, let’s take spending camouflaged as marketing. Everyone sees all those expensive, slick, pointless campaigns day after day. Just turn on your TV set and there are all the look-alike ads from Ford, GM, and Chrysler with look-alike cars going down . . . a road. Creative? Probably yes—nice scenery, good-looking people, etc., etc. But effective? Mark Stevens says absolutely not. Like you’re going to spend $30,000 or more for the privilege of seeing a car go down . . . a road? Wouldn’t it be easier for the Big Three in Detroit just to open the windows at their ad agencies and throw out gobs of thousand-dollar bills?
Don’t get Mark Stevens started on marketing that sucks, or he might mention all those oh-so-cool people-in-black at the ad agencies developing campaigns that generate all kinds of buzz—in the advertising community. But not in the marketplace. (Oops.)
Note to advertisers from Mark Stevens: If you have an advertising agency that applies for any kind of an award (Clios, whatever), fire them immediately. They shouldn’t be in the business to win ego awards for beautiful ads. They should be creating ads that sell. Period! If they talk about building “mind share,” fire them immediately as well. That’s just another way of saying they’ll camouflage their failure to generate sales behind an intellectual smoke screen.
Mark Stevens is the best friend of anyone with a product or service to sell who wants to use marketing as a basis for growing the business. What he provides both entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 types is a hard-nosed, “prove it to me” program that demands accountability for every dollar spent on marketing so that it brings in more revenue or customers, preferably both. Use his program and you won’t be throwing money out the window.
Your Marketing Sucks is chock-full of practical ideas such as:
* Marketing is not about advertising, public relations, or direct mail. It is about growing the revenues, profit, and valuation of the business.
* The marketing moratorium. Stop all your marketing for a month and you may be surprised at what happens. Sales have actually risen at some companies, a sure sign that, prior to the moratorium, they were throwing money out the window.
* Why the worst ads are actually the best. Start paying attention to the genius of the infomercial and cast a very skeptical eye on the kind of ads you see during the Super Bowl.
* Reverse engineer your marketing so that it starts at the point-of-sale. Because nothing happens unless a sale is made.
* Employ a swarming offense. Hit customers from every possible angle—print ads, sales displays, e-mails, infomercials.
* Pick the low-hanging fruit. Cross-sell to clients and customers.
Mark Stevens shows how to conceive an innovative, effective marketing campaign strategy—like Bill Gates’s battle cry of “putting a computer on every desk and in every home”—and then monitor the results. The idea is to spend your marketing budget only in ways that will give you a measurable return on your marketing dollars. That’s more than good marketing: It’s how you grow a business. And that’s what this book is all about!