What you know still counts!

Fuel Marketing - blog imageWe have all heard the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know that matters”, and in the past I probably would have agreed. But lately I have been seeing people with the “right” connections, setting up in in business without the knowledge part. It’s like watching a car crash in slow motion. And whilst I cannot knock their creativity, enthusiasm or single-minded determinedness to succeed, I find myself wondering where this will lead.

Let’s face it, none of us wants to go to hospital for an operation and be treated by someone who has no medical training or education. And being political for a moment, career politicians are just as bad as they sit in their Whitehall offices advising businesses and big corporates on policies when they have never run or owned a business, or in most cases ever even worked in a business themselves!

Young pretenders

In my eyes, reading a book or doing a weekend training course is no substitute for experience. And interestingly in some cases hard work, research and industry experience are being side-lined in the quest to make quick money and/or for people to make a name for themselves as an “expert” and “go-to person” in their industry.

Some people amongst you may think that my views are old-fashioned and that I should embrace modern thinking and you might be right. But in the marketing world, I come up against these “pretenders” all too often and it’s very disheartening to find yourself pitching against them for client work. Because unfortunately sometimes in the client’s eyes we may look similar as we claim to be their all-encompassing marketing solution. And when they make their final decision on who to work with, you can find yourself losing out because of their lowers costs and the bewildering nature of their industry spin, jargon and promises.

I have clocked up an impressive 17 years in corporate marketing, plus an additional 8 years of running my own business. And during this time I have come across and dealt with most marketing issues, situations, mistakes, challenges, as well as a multitude of difficult clients, weird demands and downright unrealistic expectations. So now when I pitch for the business, I am supremely confident that I have the right working knowledge and experience to help and guide them honestly through the marketing jungle, so that they can achieve the right results. But can the same be said for the “pretenders”?

Price is no indicator of quality

Six months ago I lost out on some business because the client choose a cheaper option from a full marketing services firm who were fresh from college and had been trading for less than 12 months. I was graceful in defeat, but couldn’t help but smile when the client called me last week to look at other marketing options, as it transpired that the appointed firm had not been able to deliver what they had promised because of a general lack of client understanding and marketing know-how.

And again at a networking event earlier this month, I met another marketing firm who talked a good story but when asked about their credentials they looked a little wrong-footed. So my advice is this, if you want to be taken seriously, then you need to pitch in some time effort and hard graft. Because whilst your fluffy proposition will have a certain appeal to some prospective customers looking for a quick fix at the right price, you must remember that in order to compete effectively in the long-term you and your business must actually stack up.