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BookReview: Your Marketing Sucks
by Mark Stevens, Three Rivers Press, April 26, 2005, 1400081696

Mark Stevens promotes Extreme Marketing: results means revenue, and nothing else. He thinks the Clio award should be abolished along with any awards, because they take away from marketing productivity. The book is filled with examples of where his company changed the marketing to improve the ROI of various companies.

Unfortunately, he presents anecdotes as evidence. While his specific recommendations make "sense" in context, and are backed by numbers in the specific instance, that doesn't mean they are generally good advice to follow. Indeed, it seems like any advice he gives always works. He doesn't present his trials and errors at getting ROI, which would be extremely useful.

The book is entertaining in general. I like his direct style of writing. It's probably a bit too long for the general message: have a way of measuring it, and try a lot of stuff. However, in comparison to other marketing books, his book is concise and clear about how to value marketing.

[p29] No more submissions for Clios. No more "most creative ad by a Midwest agency" competitions. No more nothing that has to do with ego as opposed to sales. The reason for that is simple: Ad agencies and the companies that hire them have opposite goals. Those creative directors want to win Clios on your budget-to them, their careers come before your company's growth. So before you hire an agency, you have to forbid it from entering any advertising contest.

The only exception I would make is when the agency is competing for an award that is given for producing the greatest return on investment, and even then I am not sure I would have firms entering those contests-filling out the entry forms takes away from productive work. If someone wanted to give them the award, that would be fine.

Forbes gave my company such an award for an ad we created. (See page 30.) The ad drove an unbelievable amount of traffic to the Cognet website, and that is what it was designed to do. We didn't enter a contest to win it -- Forbes found

[p49] Rule 3: Most companies make salesmanship the last step the marketing process. Most companies are wrona: Salesmanship should come first.

[p67] The fact is that salespeople bring in business. They bring home the check. That is what sales is about. It is not the ability to put on a pleasant presentation or have a good meeting. Salespeople aren't afraid to make cold calls, they are eager to ask for the sale, they have a passion for what they do, they don't fear rejection, and they are bulldogs. (They aren't like my dog Blue.) They won't stop until they get the business. You either have those traits or you don't.

If you don't, does that mean Extreme Marketing is wasted on you? Absolutely not. It just means you need real salespeople in your marketing mix to close the deal.

The Lazy Marketing approach is to deny this undeniable fact and

a. Continue to hope for this magic

b. Accept the fact that only a few of the individuals in the firm will produce practice-building results

[p76] We have already talked about the fact that you can't turn a nonsalesperson into a salesperson. But when you a little deeper, you find something that is even more depressing, if you are a senior manager or entrepreneur.

The problem can be reduced to this: "Ninety-nine cent of the world's salespeople aren't."

What does this mean? Simply that the vast majority people posing as salespeople fall into one of the follow' two camps:

  • They have tried other jobs and failed at them, rather than remaining on the unemployment lines, they taking a fling at selling. That is certainly not a backgrou that is going to inspire confidence.

  • They actually want to be salespeople and may like the idea of selling. After all, they have always been told they are sociable and outgoing and assume this makes th natural-born salespeople. But although they may be charming, they can't make the sale. The fact is that there is enormous gulf between a schmoozer and a closer. The ab:" to get along famously, and even conduct an amiable s meeting, does not a salesperson make. The only way a salesperson can be judged is on the ability to actually write new business. And it is on this acid test that most "salespeople: fail miserably.

[p85] But Extreme Marketers recognize that longevity is far less important than management's willingness to repeatedly dismiss mediocre performers in order to raise the bar on the company's revenues and profitability.

[p179] You can do this by conducting focus groups with your target audience-but I don't recommend it. The problem I have found with focus groups is that they are never going to tell you something that you don't already know. First of all, the focus group is invariably dominated by one person with a big mouth, and an ego to match, who influences everyone else, despite the best attempts of the moderator.

And even if you conduct multiple focus groups, to try to get a sample reaction that is statistically valid, it doesn't help you much.

Via Rob 2006