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Marketing Can be Incredibly Ineffective - Confessions from a Marketing CEO

Let’s face the sad reality: the assumed effectiveness of marketing is a widespread myth.  There may be a marketing department down the hall, but how does that department and the programs therein truly affect the scope and productivity of your company?

As an active Marketing CEO, I can attest to receiving payment from clients whose marketing techniques were failing to obtain results. Several of these companies expended their entire marketing budgets on innovative, highly intriguing strategies that failed to yield positive results. However, it was not the substance of those programs that elicited failure; it was their integration and execution.

Let’s start at the beginning –

Why does a company come to Strategic Media Group or any another marketing consultant/firm?  The theoretical answer would be that the company desires to attain predetermined goals and traceable results.  One would think so but our experiences point to the contrary…

Last year Strategic Media Group worked with a client that requested several innovative programs and strategies, however, none of these programs produced results.  Once again, the inevitable question of WHY arose. So, we diagnosed the problems and came up with the following reasons why marketing doesn’t always work…

The #1 reason marketing is ineffective is due to the incongruity of sales and marketing pipelines within a company. Sales and marketing departments MUST work together in order to achieve results. I asked John Nelson of Achievement Dynamics (our sales expert) to address this issue head-on:

Over the years of sitting down with owners and executives of companies of all sizes, one of the biggest problems that is discovered is how marketing and sales are working together---or in many cases---not working together.  As one President of a company once told me, "John, we have a great marketing program, and we get tons of leads that come in from it, but no one seems to know how to close those leads---can you help me and train my people to close these leads?"  The comment by this president recognizes the problem that companies, (1) too often "assume" that they have salespeople that can close those leads and opportunities and, (2) that the marketing plan is aligned with competent salespeople that “can” close the leads the marketing plan generates. Obviously, per this president's comment, that's not true.  What has happened in the early stages of any marketing plan? An assumption---an assumption that the salespeople can effectively execute the sales plan and close the deals.  There has been an assumption that the marketing plan is "sales executable."  Too often that is not the case.

What are some of the signs there may be a serious “sales execution” problem?

The obvious:

  • Sales revenue isn’t where it should be
  • Closing rates are not where they should be
  • The sales cycle is too long
  • Salespeople make excuses for all the above

The not so obvious:

  • Marketing fixes (strategic and tactical) have been tried and failed.
  • Re-pricing, i.e. discounting…Sales says, “It’s a pricing issue.”
  • Searching for the “right” market niche.  Sales says, “We aren’t in front of the “right” prospects.”
  • Management is buying the excuses the salespeople are giving them
  • Key information is not being captured by sales people and transferred to marketing
  • The blame game:  Sales blames marketing for doing a bad job.  Marketing responds by pointing the finger at Sales.

We often find companies wasting at least 50% of their marketing budget because sales can’t execute.  The sales team is usually operating at less than 50% efficiency ( by the way there’s an objective way to measure and analyze this).

What is the best way to begin fixing a challenge like this?  Sitting down to do a pipeline analysis is the first step.  From there an objective and effective initial plan of action can be created.  That plan will usually include objective analysis of both the selling process and the sales people.  From there a strategic plan to address both people and process issues can be created and executed.  The bottom line is it will usually take a change in the sales culture of the organization to realize the gains of aligning the sales and marketing pipelines.  To change the sales culture is not easy. It is simple but not an easy process.  It takes a commitment from leadership but the results will be worth it.   

The #2 reason is simply a lack of execution and the broad inability follow through on the vision of success that began at the marketing program’s conception.

Larry Bossidy & Ram Charan addressed this issue with boldness in Execution – The Discipline of Getting Things Done.

“Here is the fundamental problem: People think of execution as the tactical side ofbusiness, something leaders delegate while thy focus on the perceived “bigger” issues.This idea is completely wrong. Execution is not just tactics—it is a discipline and asystem. It has to be built into a company’s strategy, its goals, and its culture.”

In order to apply this concept, a company must understand the clear boundary that lies between the services of a consulting firm (or outsourced marketing company) and the application of those services within the company structure. For example, a web site built by the best marketing company available is useless unless the company drives traffic to the site.  When Strategic Media Group conceives a program and consults a company on its implementation, it is assumed that the company will take the necessary steps to put the program into operation. Otherwise, the desired results WILL NOT be achieved.

Now why address these issues so boldly?  What do we hope to accomplish?

The answer is simple – we hope to alter and revamp the mindset of business owners and executives by simply stating that marketing budgets can be effective.  Incredible results can be achieved by simply cultivating sales and aligning the goals of marketing/sales departments. 

Our Challenge to You

Ensure that every dollar of your marketing budget is being spent to produce traceable results.  Dedicate a larger percentage of your budget to sales development and work to unite sales and marketing into a cooperative alliance. Make these two pipelines align! These two strategies will yield powerful and unseen results.

If you have wasted money in marketing before and have had a difficult time identifying the problem, call us for a brief discussion.  We understand that we are not the perfect fit for everyone, but we would be pleased to help you find those needed to achieve the desired results.

About Strategic Media Group

Strategic Media Group is a multimedia corporate communications consulting & implementation firm.  Working directly with companies marketing, PR, IR & Training programs we create programs that contain strategies and techniques to achieve direct, traceable, results.  We typically work with two types of organizations:

  1. Visionaries in Corporate Communications – Companies and executives who see the direct impact their corporate communications strategy has on every part of their business on the inside and the outside.  They realize the value in multimedia communication and actively work to update, innovate, and better these efforts.
  2. Need Change – Companies who need change. They see the value and recognize that there needs to be more efficient communication in these 4 areas.  They are typically frustrated about wasted money, upset that results are not being shown, or they simply recognize their corporate communications aren’t where they need to be and want to change it!

Strategic Media Group is a nationwide firm headquartered in Denver, CO with an office in New York City, NY.  Please visit for more information. 


Jeremy Bliler

CEOBusiness Management Articles, Strategic Media Group


John Nelson

Achievement Dynamics


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