THE SEDUCTIVE SIN OF MARKETING AND SALES CERTAINTY
By John Graham
There is no place for certainty in a business world that is in a constant state of flux. Doing everything right today in marketing and sales offers no comfort . . . because the needs and opportunities of tomorrow will be even more demanding.
If there’s one sin in marketing and sales that’s more harmful and that dwarfs all others, it’s certainty. Yet, no marketer or salesperson gets a job without paying tribute to it for fear of coming across as weak and ineffective.
At one point, the average marketing manager enjoyed an 18-month tenure, the point at which their “certainty” ran out of gas, suggesting, perhaps, that they may not have known what to do next. It may be the same story with those in sales. When a colleague met the new sales manager, he knew the guy would be gone in six months. This turned out to be a case of arrogant certainty that was betrayed by incredible disorganization and a trail of broken promises. This is the perfect set up for failure.
This is not a rant on inadequate marketers and sales executives. Rather, the focus is on the far more vexing problem of coming to terms with the reality that there is little place for certainty in marketing and sales today. Unfortunately, too many business owners and corporate executives look for and expect certainty, an impossible outcome that foreshadows inevitable failure. Here are several suggestions for coping with what can be described as a marketing and sales crisis.
• Certainty is an illusion. With all the smartphone excitement, some marketers seem to hold that having an app, for example, leads directly to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or, if not that, the thinking seems to be that not having an app is a sign of negligence, of uncertainty. Yet, having an app and customers actually using it can be quite different. Even though the average smartphone has 120 apps, we’re told that only five are used regularly. How many times have you said, “What does that one do? Why did I download it?”
Just because a marketing activity is popular or “cutting edge” doesn’t mean it will produce the desired results in every situation. Expecting marketers to hit the bull’s eye every time is unrealistic. If there’s anything that can be called “marketing magic,” it’s continual experimentation and testing.
• The curse of short-term expectations. When someone says, “F-150,” just about everyone knows it’s a Ford pickup truck. And why not? Ford has showcased the iconic F-150 series name for six decades – and the truck has been a best seller for more than thirty years. Expecting marketers and salespeople to deliver instant results is becoming increasingly ludicrous. The NPR (National Public Radio) audience, which tends to be older, is the demographic that’s most attuned to radio. To begin to attract a younger audience, NPR now streams music, without charge, from every NPR station in the nation, a rich offering for its prospective customers and a long-term investment in the future of its brand.
About the Author: John R. Graham of GrahamComm is a marketing and sales consultant and business writer. He publishes a monthly eNewsletter, “No Nonsense Marketing & Sales.” He can be contacted at 617-774-9759, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or at johnrgraham.com.