Over the years, I have come to identify what works in the marketing process--and what is simply good money chasing bad. This knowledge and first-hand experience has led me to develop my own declaration of principles on the marketing process:
Stop thinking that marketing has to be creative. It has to sell goods and services. Sometimes the least creative marketing - Wal-Mart's advertising - is the most effective.
Throw out the idea that advertising should be entertaining. Unless you are in the entertainment business, you don't get paid to entertain the public. You're supposed to be selling them.
If your advertising agency submits its work for Clio Awards, fire the agency. Clios are granted on the basis of Hollywood entertainment standards that have nothing to do with sales. You hire advertising agencies to help you sell your products and services.
Reverse-engineer the marketing process. The first step you should take is to talk to the salespeople and then work your way back to strategy. Sales-people are the ones who get the phones hung up on them and the doors slammed in their faces. They'll tell you what works and doesn't work.
Engage in zero-based marketing. Instead of simply adding or subtracting x percent from your budget for advertising, public relations, brochures and websites each year, start by questioning which of those initiatives you need. If they don't generate results measured in the growth of your business, kill them. Dead!
Insist on a Marketing Moratorium. Halt every marketing initiative you are paying for (unless something is absolutely vital to keeping your doors open) and re-think what you're spending on marketing and why you're spending it. The Moratorium should last from a day to a week. You'll go back in the marketplace wiser. . . and likely richer.
Next time someone tells you to build your company's buzz, tell him a sucker may be born everyday but you're not one of them. Try taking buzz, like awareness, to the bank.
Every time you think about spending any money at all on marketing, ask yourself a simple question: "Will this proposed initiative help to grow my business?" If you cannot measure the impact it will have on business growth, don't spend the money. Doing anything else is equivalent to throwing thousand dollar bills out the window.
Get an infomercial MBA. Madison Avenue may sneer at them--"Oh they're just so pedestrian"--but infomercials move products, move them well and move them cheaply. Any marketer who can't learn from an infomercial is a closed-minded dilettante.
Stop engaging in marketing that stinks. Any fool can do that--and no one's ever grown a business wasting money that way. It's time to apply the same discipline that you require of accounting, finance, inventory management and production to the art and science of marketing.
Mark Stevens is the CEO of MSCO, a results-driven marketing and management firm, and the best-selling author of 24 books. His latest book is Rich is a Religion.