Marketing is not always the solution!
I recently met with the owner of a large engineering company who was desperate for help with their marketing. Over the years their interaction and engagement with the outside world had dwindled and they were losing an increasing number of sizeable orders. Employee morale was quite low, there was confusion amongst management about the key priorities and finally the business seemed to have lost its way when it came to displaying any commerciality.
Now any marketing professional worth their salt knows that the main problem with this business is not one that can be easily fixed. They also appreciate that marketing may not be the best solution to get this company back in the game.
But when I spoke to the owner he was firmly of the opinion that upping their marketing spend and the number of activities they did was the only option he would consider as that’s what a business coach had told him the week before. At this point I had a choice. Go with it and encourage him to spend lots of money to blitz his market place with a plethora of messages or simply tell him the truth.
Can you handle the truth?
Being Yorkshire lass with oodles of integrity, I told him the truth. Who amongst you can remember that immortal line in A few Good Men shouted out by the brilliant Jack Nicholson – “You can’t handle the truth!” Well I think that this might have been an understatement in this situation as the business owner simply shut down in front of my very eyes. I know that no one likes to hear negative things about their business, but sometimes it can help. And in this case what I saw was a complete lack of business planning, totally ineffective internal communications, confused leadership and management styles, plus unsupportive processes and systems that were hindering rather than helping the business. Needless to say my services weren’t required!
Don't be strung a line!
Now I know that I’m known for my honesty when it comes to telling it like it is, but I would rather be talked about for my honesty, bluntness and integrity than being labelled as a money-grabber. I say this like there are only two options, but seemingly I may have stumbled upon a real problem in my profession. In the last few months alone I have met people who have effectively been strung a line when it comes to marketing consultancy, as they have been told “what you need to do is” or “you know what you need” and all without the marketing person taking the time to do some basic due diligence and ask the right questions.
Personally, I would rather walk away with my head held high, than be someone who takes money knowing that what they are doing will not fix the problem or is not the right solution for the business. And if that makes me seem weird or not very commercial then so be it. If it’s a choice I’ll stick with my integrity thanks, because that’s just who I am and what I want my brand to be known and respected for.