After many years in business I’m convinced that there is a single reason, a single primary reason why businesses fail.
The single biggest reason that most businesses (certainly small businesses) fail in my view is that business leaders are not marketing leaders.
It’s that simple.
A business leader is typically someone who’s very very good at what they do;
They’re very good at revenue,
they’re very good at product development,
they’re very good at bringing everything together,
they’re very good at networking,
they’re very good at most of the pieces of the business.
So they’ve gone out and they’re growing their business and of course cash and pipeline are everything to them. But marketing is not important and those business leaders who are brilliant at something, are rarely brilliant at marketing.
We accept that growing the business, pipeline and all of those things are important, and we generally accept that most business leaders are not skilled in marketing, and then most businesses fail.
For me I think there’s a convergence of a single problem there.
I don’t think it’s an insurmountable one, to any business leader reading this I actually think it’s really easily solved which is why I do what I do (and I’m not selling consultancy). For business leaders it’s a really tricky balance doing everything, you’ve got to run the people, you’ve got to build the business, you’ve got to keep the customers happy, you’ve got to find new customers, you’ve got to make sure the finances work, you’ve got to deal with the financial responsibilities of being a business owner, the people responsibilities, the technology responsibilities – there’s a thousand jobs to do. Marketing isn’t one.
I think that balance is being redressed, I think we’re seeing more business leaders who are savy do better in business. I think we’re seeing marketing escalate up the corporate ladder and we’re starting to see CMOS at board level more than ever before and we’re seeing people who’ve come from the marketing stack become the ultimate business leader.
I don’t think that’s an accident.
What if business leaders wanted to take their marketing more seriously?
Well they either outsource it to an agency, which has a cost and some control lost or they bring in consultants, which is what I do some of the time.
But the reality is it’s expensive and you’re buying a solution today, you’re not buying a solution tomorrow.
You’re buying an improvement today, but you’re not improving the business tomorrow because you’re becoming dependent on an external provision, on an external service. It’s impossible to afford everything in a business – everyone would love to have a marketing director I’m sure, but a marketing director that’s worth their salt isn’t gonna be cheap.
Anything that’s worth having isn’t going to be cheap and it’s the same in marketing.
Ultimately there is another way, and that’s the path that I’m treading and inviting others to follow.
Marketing leadership is possible for business leaders, and I manage to take business leaders into marketing leadership in just a single day. After 20 years I now know that there are four key things business leaders need to get their heads around to own their marketing. That doesn’t mean they’re gonna have lots to do, that doesn’t mean they’re gonna have more work, it just means they’re going to have more control.
Whoever does the work, they’re going to have more control over that work that gets done and the people that are doing it for them, whether it’s marketing consultants, whether it’s agencies, whether its internal staff.
All it needs to take is one day of walking through a few key areas and getting to a sense of awareness around brand story, marketing strategy, marketing plan and how to amplify social or how to amplify everything through social. Through a coaching and mentoring process that starts and goes on through a peer supported learning journey, which allows the business leader to learn not just from people like me but from other people in other businesses, sometimes in similar spheres.
Ultimately it allows them to start out-tasking and outsourcing intelligently, so that the jobs can get done. Because it’s not the business leader’s responsibility to be at the coalface doing everything and pressing every button.
But how do you outsource something if you don’t understand the architecture behind it?
How do you get someone to do something for you optimally if you don’t know what optimal looks like?
If that’s you, it’s not your fault that’s just the way business has always been. Marketing has never really been a fundamental core of business, but I think it’s becoming one. It’s becoming one because we live in a more disrupted world, where the barriers to entry to almost any profession are almost nonexistent – there are virtually no barriers.
Anyone can set up a company and launch a website and be present selling into your space, distracting your prospects, to take budget that could have gone to you. So marketing is definitely becoming more primary. There’s no question in my mind.
The question for business leaders is when are you going to become marketing leaders?
Now there is an easy way, it’s not expensive, and it takes only one day.
If you want to know more get in touch.
The bottom line is, she who owns the pipeline owns the business.
And the reverse is also true, if you own the business and you don’t own the pipeline, if you don’t know where your customers are coming from, if you don’t know how much it costs to get them, if you don’t have a great story to tell them to fill that pipeline – then your sales team are going to get bored very quickly, you’re going to get angry at them, you’re probably going to sack them because you’re think they’re ineffective. But they don’t have leads to follow up, they don’t have a pipeline to serve.
Ultimately all you have to do is know enough.
After all how do you outrun a lion? You don’t have to outrun the lion, you just have to be faster than anybody else and the same is true in business. You don’t have to be Steve Jobs to win, but you just have to be slightly quicker, faster, better than your competition. And marketing leadership is a surefire way to do that.