Do you sometimes feel that you are getting questionable advice when you speak to marketing consultants?

The challenge is usually quite simple. You have a good service, your customers love you, but you need more new clients if you are to make the kind of take home money you feel you deserve. So you seek the help of an “expert”. They take your money, deliver what they promise, but somehow it never produces the desired result.

How many business owners have:

  • A web site that does nothing for the business?
  • A brochure that has never generated a single customer?
  • Advertising that produces few or no new prospects?

About a year ago at a small business conference, I was on a panel with 2 other marketing experts. Both were experienced people who have relatively large successful agencies. One agency was mostly into advertising and had won several awards for its work, the other was a marketing communications agency.

One of the members of the audience, who runs a company selling office drinking water filtration systems, explained his marketing and asked what they thought would be the best way for him to grow his business.

The answers were predictable.

The agency with a focus on advertising asked a few questions about his advertising and then suggested that he do some research on his customer’s needs and do more advertising on radio and in the newspaper.

This would require gobs of money and in my opinion might not produce any appreciable gain in new clients or even leads.

The other agency didn’t ask any questions but suggested he might refresh his brand, whatever that might mean and then he should beef up his web site and marketing collateral.

I was astounded. This is like going to the doctor and being given a prescription as you walk through the door. It’s not that these answers were wrong; the problem is that they were expensive, difficult to measure and would be no more effective than a number of more simple solutions.

I decided at that moment to test a pet theory of mine. I believe that many business owners have great instincts, but they don’t always trust them, nor do they have the necessary skills to execute their ideas, so they get stuck.

My first question to this member was; “How would you go about growing your business, if you really put your mind to it?”

He thought for all of 5 seconds and said, “I’d hire a bunch of commission only sales people and pay them for results.”

In my opinion, that was a far more realistic suggestion than any of the gurus had made.

My next question was “Why haven’t you done it?” He told the audience he’d tried, but had been unsuccessful in hiring effective sales people.

He told us his process, it was not surprising it hadn’t worked. He didn’t understand the qualities needed for successful sales so his recruiting and interviewing was flawed. Also he had not done any training or coaching for the people he hired. He figured it out, so why couldn’t the experts.

His problem was not that he had the wrong strategy; he didn’t have the skills to make it work and so was in danger of throwing out the baby with the bath water.

He subsequently got the help and guidance he needed and he told me yesterday that his business is beginning to grow. But more importantly he had not had to spend thousands to achieve it.

The problem is that both agency people are smart guys and smart guys have to have smart sexy answers. If they could give a simple answer, how could they make any money from it and how could they impress people with how smart they are. After all they didn’t earn an MBA by giving simple answers.

The problem is that marketing does not have to be smart or sexy to work. It just has to work. We forget that real people buy from real people. It’s not about segments and markets.

We forget that you don’t have to manipulate people to buy if it’s in their self interest to do so. You simply have to show them how it fits with their self interest.

You don’t have to spend gobs of money to be a successful marketer. In fact some of the best marketing costs virtually nothing to implement, but you generally can’t make much money from selling simple cheap ideas. So if you want to build a big agency, there is some benefit in making it seem complex and sexy and smart.

The key in working with people who are going to help you grow your business, is to work with people who see the extraordinary in the ordinary. To work with people who understand the value of simple unembellished truths. To work with people who can show you how to make money with out needing to be complex, sexy and smart. To work with people who are prepared to get paid on results.

You can easily learn what you need to know to ensure you are getting good advice, or are hiring outside people who know what they are talking about. There are lots of books and courses. Of course you have to be careful which ones you buy, but if you do your homework and look for people who have a track record of success you lessen the risk.

Working with people who understand and operate this way in your team, your business can grow and you can prosper.

Are your instincts right about what’s needed? Are you lacking the knowledge and skills to effectively implement what you need to in your business? If so you might not need to do anything more than learn how to do really well what you want to do. Try it you may be pleasantly surprised.