December 10, 2008
Sometimes it seems like the hardest thing to do in business is to get things done: so little time, so many obstacles. And when it comes to marketing it gets even worse, after all there are all those administrative details that need to be dealt with, emails, inquiries, suppliers, and on and on. Finding the time to devote to creating a sustained, focused marketing effort seems like it’s near impossible. But the biggest obstacles of all are some of your trusted colleagues and advisors; you know the ones I’m talking about, the ones that are a royal pain-in-the-ass. So lets just call them on the proverbial carpet and fire their butts; but first let’s check the files and find out who they are.
File One: Mr. Inertia
Everybody knows this guy. He’s the one who hasn’t had a new idea in five years. This is the fellow who thinks everything is just fine the way it is, so let’s not rock-the-boat, everything is just hunky-dory, thank you very much.
You have to treat your business like it’s a shark: no standing still, if you don’t keep moving forward, you won’t survive. It’s a competitive world out there, and in the Web-centric marketing environment, you’re not only competing with the shop down the street, you’re competing with the whole world, so standing still is not an option. Mr. Inertia, you’re fired!
File Two: Mr. Know-It-All
I love this guy, he knows everything, he’s done everything, and if you ask him he’ll tell you he invented it. It doesn’t matter what it is or even if it relates to your business, he’s done it all and seen it all, or so he says. This is Mr. Know-It-All; he stopped learning, stopped improving, and stopped listening years ago.
Despite all his self-proclaimed knowledge and insight, this guy hasn’t contributed anything meaningful to the marketing effort since a Blackberry was something you ate. Mr. Know-It-All, you’re fired!
File Three: Mr. My-Business-Is-Unique
We all like to feel that we have created something unique, something different, something that no one else does. The fact is business is business; it’s very dangerous to think that your company is so unusual that it’s irreplaceable, so different that you don’t need to market, so special that branding isn’t required, and so singular that positioning is a waste of time.
Don’t be fooled, finding your ‘mark of differentiation’ is just as much an exercise in marketing as it is an exercise in product development. Mr. My-Business-Is-Unique, you’re fired!
File Four: Mr. We-Always-Do-It-This-Way
At one point in my career I ran a company that manufactured photo albums. We had a large competitor who always undercut our price no matter what we sold our product for. In an effort to find out how they were gaining this advantage, we cut open one of their new albums and found that they were using cheap corrugated cardboard as a stiffener instead of the more expensive traditional 80-point board everybody in the industry used.
Our sales manager made an appointment with a major photo chain known for only buying quality. He made a dramatic presentation by cutting open our competition’s product illustrating the superior nature of our product and demonstrating how they were being duped into buying the inferior junk our competitor was selling them. The buyer, who was also one of the owners looked at the products on his desk, uttered an expletive-deleted and laughed, “Yea,” he said, “but they are cheaper.”
Just because things were done the same way forever, doesn’t mean that you can keep doing it that way. Keep innovating, experimenting, challenging the status quo. Mr. We-Always-Do-It-This Way, you’re fired.
File Five: Mr. Everybody-Is-Stupid (But Me)
This clown’s a real buzz-kill. In brainstorming sessions this is the guy who shoots down every idea that comes up without offering any alternatives. If some idea is actually adopted he immediately begins to try and change it. You’ll usually find him with a coffee in one hand and a donut in the other, standing over someone who is actually trying to work, telling them to move it a pixel to the right or add a little blue or saying stuff like, “I think it needs a pony, ya add a pony.” This jerk is like a dog going from hydrant to fencepost depositing his mark without any purpose or validity other than leaving his scent. Not only is this guy unproductive, he makes everybody around him less productive. Mr. Everybody-Is-Stupid (But Me), your fired!
File Six: Mr. I-Know-All-The-Customers-Worth-Knowing
Hard to believe but this guy does exist. I once called on a potential client who told me he didn’t need a website because he knew all the customers worth knowing, all six of them. He was a manufacturer and he did sell to the six largest retail buyers of his merchandise but one thing I’ve learned over the years, you never have enough customers, and as soon as you think you’ve got them all sewed up, watch out, because every competitor is out to take them away from you. And as good as you are or as good as you think you are clients will eventually be pursued by a competitor offering something better or cheaper. Never stop prospecting, never stop looking for new business, and never be satisfied. Mr. I-Know-All-The-Customers-Worth-Knowing, you’re fired.
File Seven: Mr. I-Know-All-The-Benefits
We all could be guilty of this marketing sin if we’re not careful. Thinking you know everything that people do with your product or service is a risky mindset and speaks to a lack of vision. This guy goes to the appropriate conventions, listens to all his industry’s experts and reads only stuff about his own established market. If it’s about something else, he’s just not interested, and he doesn’t see or understand the relevance.
The fact is all your customers are people who have lives outside of business; they all have problems, insecurities, hobbies, and interests that have nothing to do with business. And they may have a totally different point-of-view as to what you offer and how they can use it. You must pay attention to what’s going on in the world and how people think and react to events and situations. The market is an emotional and psychological minefield and you must pay attention to outside forces because if you don’t you’re limiting your potential. Mr. I-Know-All-The-Benefits, I’m sorry but you’re fired!
File Eight: Mr. Everything-Is-Bulls@%t
This employee is not just useless, he’s downright destructive; no matter what marketing plan you’re considering implementing this guy thinks it’s bull. He doesn’t believe in branding, positioning, or any form of sophisticated marketing. He doesn’t believe that psychology or emotion plays any part in the sales process and is probably the master of wining and dining clients resulting in the biggest expense account in the company but not much else. His clients were customers before he arrived and will probably be there after he leaves unless he pisses them off. This guy still doesn’t see the benefit of a website and keeps repeating, ‘it’s just an electronic brochure.’ His answer to a dip in sales is always the same, to cut prices. Mr. Everything-Is-Bulls@%t, you’re fired!
File Nine: Mr. I’ll-Get-Around-To-It
Nobody really knows what this guy does. He is pleasant, tells good jokes, and he most likely is the guy who brings coffee and cookies to the office for everybody once a week. His desk is always piled high with papers, files, and binders, and when you ask him for something he invariably starts to rummage through this heap of junk ultimately telling you that he’ll bring it along as soon as he finds it, he’s just been ‘sooo’ busy. It takes him three days to answer an email, a week to return a phone call, and at least two weeks to respond to a request for a quotation. This guy just has to go. Mr. I’ll-Get-Around-To-It, you’re fired!
File Ten: Mr. Automatic Pilot
This chap believes that the great benefit of having a Web-based business is that he doesn’t have to work. This guy spent a considerable sum of money having a bunch of programmers, probably from one of those offshore sweatshops, develop a website system that automatically answers emails, fills orders, and processes inquiries. The only problem is that it doesn’t matter if a customer has a question or complaint they all get the same email-response that says they can order even more stuff they can’t figure out how to use. Mr. Automatic Pilot, you’re fired!
File Eleven: Mr. I-Don’t-Need-No-Stinking-Creativity
This guy doesn’t believe in any kind of creativity, he thinks everything is based on rational dollar-and-cents decision-making. His website lists as many features and benefits in 48 point red Times Roman as he can think of; he highlights each point in yellow and underlines them in green with a big purple checkmark beside each one. He adds several royalty-free photographs of fake customers with quotations he made-up while sitting on the john. And just to enhance his special offer page, he tacks-on a bunch of extra bonus gifts like a useless free e-book. This guy’s idea of marketing got stuck in the fifties; so Mr. I-Don’t-Need-No-Stinking-Creativity, you’re fired.
File Twelve: Mr. Get-Me-the-Coast
You run across these types every now and again. I once went to a meeting with this guy who was the Vice President of Whatever Mega Corporation. At first glance, he was very impressive, handsome and tall with a big office and lots of hair, and a voice made for AM radio. He talked faster than anyone I ever met. As we made our presentation, he slammed his hand down on the intercom and bellowed to his secretary to “Get me Johnny on the coast!” Before I knew what hit me, he’s talking to his guy in California who’s on his way to his dry cleaner to pick up his laundry. He asked him a couple of questions as fast as I ever heard without much reference to anything we were discussing and slammed down the phone with a thud. I had no idea what we were talking about or if this guy heard a single word we said. This guy was the master of taking meetings and impressing people, but with what I am still not sure. Mr. Get-Me-the-Coast, your fired!
A Final Thought
The single most important thing about managing good staff or contractors is that they will only be as good as you let them. So now that you’ve laid-waste to a staff of deadweight, what’s next? You need to hire or outsource the right people; people who are creative, innovative, and talented; people who are interested in getting things done, whether it’s filing or creating your next marketing campaign.
About The Author
Jerry Bader is Senior Partner at MRPwebmedia, a website design firm that specializes in Web-audio and Web-video. Visit MRPwebmedia.com, 136Words.com and SonicPersonality.com. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone (905) 764-1246