Yes Virginia, Marketing Does Work Even When You Think It Doesn’t

I have to laugh when one of my customers says that his marketing doesn’t work. Does this sound familiar? “I placed an ad in 007 for three months and got nothing”, not even a phone call. Or this, “Yeah, yeah we did a newsletter once and I did not get a single order.” Or my personal favorite. “ Tech newsletters just make our customers mad. We sent out three of them to five thousand people and three people unsubscribed saying that they were getting too many newsletters.” Really? Three people out of five thousand? Wow, how horrible!

Now for the best part. And these are actual facts. These companies’ bookings increased significantly before they stopped their marketing. Full disclosure: we had spent a year with them handling their marketing. Of course, we did other things besides their ads and newsletters, but in the end they had had enough and stopped their marketing programs.

“But you say they grew right? “ I hear you asking. And yes they did grow and that is the funny part and the sad part also I guess. When you start working on your marketing things happen. Even if you don’t want to trace it to the marketing itself, when you start even thinking about marketing something happens.

And that something is that for the first time the company starts thinking about their customers. You see,  when you put a marketing plan together, the customer gets a seat at the table. You are forced to start thinking about your customers. You have to consider things like:

  • Why are they buying from you?
  • What do you do that they like?
  • What products and services do they prefer?
  • How did you get started with them in the first place?
  • Why did they choose your company?
  • What do you do well?
  • What is your customer service like?
  • How fast do you get quotes out?
  • What is your win rate?
  • What is your company’s strategy?
  • What is your company’s brand?
  • What is your company’s messaging?
  • What is working?
  • What is not working?
  • What can you do to make it work?
  • How are you going to appeal to a wider customer base?
  • How are you going to promote that new technology you just invested in?
  • What technologies do they want you to invest in?
  • What does the sales team need to appeal to your customers?

Do you see what I mean? Show me a company that does not like marketing, and I will show you an internally driven company. A company that spends too much time thinking about their own internal issues than thinking about their customers, and yes, finally a company that will eventually go out of business.

The very act of making  a company even think about marketing means that they will have to think about the customer. Which in turn leads to them being more intentional with their customer service. Which means in fact that their numbers will go up. Which is exactly what happened to the companies I talked about at the beginning of this column.

So yes Virginia, marketing does work even when you think it doesn’t.

Okay now doesn’t that make you want to do more marketing? If even thinking about what your customers want improves your sales just think who successful you would be if you actually got intentional about your marketing?

To argue with people who don’t like to get involved in the marketing of their company is a waste of time. And frankly they will be out of business sooner than later. Considering our own industry just think of the 1200 companies that have gone out of business in the past twenty years. Oh wait, they are no longer around to talk about it! Isn’t that enough of a doomsday message for the rest of us?

Look I get it. You don’t like marketing because you don’t understand it. It seems like a waste of money to  you. You’d rather buy something useful like a new drill machine for three hundred and fifty thousand dollars than spend twenty thousand a year on marketing. But let’s think about it for a minute. What are you going to put on that shiny new expensive drill machine if you don’t have any customers? 

Always remember you have to be found. Customers have to know your name, who you are and what you do before they can do business with you. And these are no longer the old days where you handed out a brochure and were done. When a director of sales and marketing was 99% sales and 1% marketing when she put together a new brochure every other year. Now your competitors are using content, Linkedin, Constant Contact, Twitter, Instagram, Webinars, E-books, YouTube videos and (horrors!) advertising to promote their business. What are you doing?

One last real world example: We work with a company that does everything I just listed. When we started with them they were at $15,000,000 a year in annual revenue and that was in 2016 and now five  years later they finished 2022 at $40,000,000 and that was organic growth. They did not buy that growth, they earned it. Yes Virginia, Marketing does indeed work. It’s only common sense.