Marketing and sales initiatives are a company’s lifeblood. Yet, the top leadership in many companies harbors serious doubts about the effectiveness of such initiatives. The confidence level among some executives is so low that they’re not sure it would make much difference if they stopped most of the initiatives.
The range of opinion on marketing and sales is amazing — from doubtful to indispensable, from true believers to diehard skeptics. Why such opposing views? The problem surfaces when marketing and sales initiatives fail to meet expectations; that occurs simply because they’re based on ideas that don’t work. Here are some examples:
1. Listening to the wrong people.
Listening to others has merit, unless it’s taking advice from the wrong people. It happens all too frequently in business, particularly in marketing and sales.
Abandoning knowledge and judgment, those in marketing often bend to the “wishes” of the president, sales manager or other “higher ups”, even though they know the results will be disastrous. Then there are the salespeople, who constantly make it clear that their wishes should prevail because they’re on the frontlines and know what’s needed.
More often than not, it’s uninformed opinions and quirky ideas that prevail, rather than solid research. And you can be sure that “Customers Come First” is the official company message.
2. Serving the wrong customer.
“The next big thing is here,” the ads for the Samsung S5 smartphone proclaim. Then, The Motley Fool blog dashes the dream: “One of the big problems with the recent Samsung Galaxy S5 launch is that, from day 1, it was already being made obsolete by the rumors of the imminent launches of more premium variants.” It’s just one more notable example of sending the wrong message by attempting to sell the ‘sizzle’ instead of the ‘steak’ to attract buyers.
Compare this with Apple’s ads for its iPhone 5S, which has been out for nearly a year or two years if you include the iPhone 5: “You’re more powerful than you think…you have the power to create shape and share your life. It’s right here in your hand. Or bag. Or pocket. It’s your iPhone 5S.”
For Samsung, it’s the product that drives marketing — always “The next big thing”, while Apple’s marketing mission is empowering the customer.