We all hear it so many times in our careers that it begins to sound like a broken record: "If only I could develop great marketing, I could get this business back in gear."
Sounds wise enough. We all know the power of great marketing, so why make a federal case out of it?
For a reason that strikes at the core of why an elite group of companies produce amazing results year after year, and why others fail miserably: Marketing can't fix a broken business.
The Root of Failure
The root of company failure lies in four major plagues: rudderless leadership, lust-to-lax syndrome, complacency, and a belief in conventional wisdom.
Before it decides to invest in marketing (regardless of the company's size or industry), management must make sure that those four roots of failure and dysfunction are not plaguing the business—and if they are, management must act swiftly to address and correct them.
What exactly are those four plagues, and how are they hurting the reputation of your business?
1. Rudderless leadership
Despite the presence of management, who is controlling the business has become a mystery to its employees—and, in some tragic cases, to management itself. Those in the company wonder, "Who is in command, and why isn't that so-called 'leader' doing something to alter the company's path to failure?"
2. The Lust-to-Lax Syndrome
Your company's sole motives have become financial gain and client or customer capture. However, the capital is dependent on your clients. If your customers aren't impressed and thrilled with your company and how it delivers, the reputation of your management and business will suffer tremendously. As a result, customers will lose faith in your company and its brand promise. In other words, a company cruising on complacency is destined for defeat.
Business is consistently booming, and your products and services are in high demand.
Why even bother to revise your strategy when everything is running so smoothly?
And that is what epitomizes the complacent company leader—a manager on cruise control, enjoying the leisure of running a company that is already successful. The complacent leader will accept the present business strategy as effective, even if it is dated, and will never seek to improve its quality.
4. Belief in Conventional Wisdom
Management has become a slave to the textbook definition of business leadership, ignoring innovations in an ever-changing market.
Here are some examples: management by consensus (impossible), promoting or rewarding based on seniority (plain wrong), and the "80/20 rule" (just an excuse).
A leader who believes in conventional wisdom is unable to effectively revise strategy in the face of adversity, allowing the business strategy to become stale. As a result, the company gets stuck in neutral.
What Can You Do? Thrill 'em
So before Management or Marketing runs off to dump money into marketing, it is critically important to get the house in order so that the investment can achieve a positive ROI.
Which brings us to the final point: As new customers come through the door (e.g., via website, call center), the term "customer service"—and the activities it encompasses—must be replaced by "The Thrill Factor."
Contrary to conventional thinking, customers do not want to be served. They want to experience something they never expected in their wildest dreams. Nowadays, with so many choices available to them, customers will regularly patronize only the businesses they love. The ones that thrill them.
One way to thrill your customers is to find out their passions in life and cater to those passions. When my dad happened to inform a furniture store that he was a fly-fishing addict, the merchant took note; a week later, he sent a box of handmade flies as a thank-you gift. After that, dad would never, ever buy from anyone else.
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Eliminating the four plagues and adding thrill to the customer experience will help a business align Marketing and Management in a fusion of promotion and execution that can generate exponential results!