What am I talking about?
I don't want to name names or websites, but here's an example:
- People who promise a magic bullet, like "Win new customers by doing these xx (any number, but under 10) things." Or, "Create a marketing plan in a day (or on one page)." Maybe an experienced marketer can if they have all the information at their fingertips, but your typical entrepreneur can't.
- People who have been successful with a particular marketing tactic, like online videos, and then tell the world that if it worked for them, it will work for you. In most cases, that's not true.
- When a pundit who specializes in say, social media, says that traditional marketing methods, like going to trade shows, is a waste of time. I repeat (again), if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
- Those who confuse strategies and tactics. Very simply, strategies describe how to take your company from point A to point B -- from where you are now to where you want to be. Tactics are the things you actually do. You can't understand which tactics to use unless you have a strategy. For example, I was recently asked if a company should advertise in "The Stranger", "The Seattle Weekly", or in "City Arts" magazine. There's no way to answer that question effectively without information (target audience, reason for running the ad, expected results, budget, each publications' circulation, audience, reach, etc.), analysis and creative thinking.
Why is this a problem?
Because entrepreneurs, startups, owners follow the advice, rather blindly. They don't know how to filter the good from the bad. This isn't their fault per se. They're often great at what they do, but not always knowledgeable about general business. There's no Yelp to vote a review up or down. Marketers don't require licenses. And it gives the rest of us a bad name when the "tactical strategies" backfire.
How to protect yourself
- Get educated by reading marketing textbooks. Ouch, right, but there are some pretty lame marketing books out there. Kotler's marketing management books are in their 14th edition. That tells you something.
- Take a class from people with a solid marketing background. Before you buy a ticket, check them out on LinkedIn at least. Look for a degree in business, marketing or communications. See where they worked and their titles. What did they actually do in their jobs?
- While you're at it, before you take the advice of any online pundit, check them out on LinkedIn too.
- If you're going to spend any money to hire someone, get reliable references first.