Fulfillment isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be, especially in business. Consider a conversation I had today with one of our media reps that revealed why so many B2B ads aren’t just bland but simply bad. This was in response to why an ad appeared in their publication quite differently from what the advertiser expected. (We didn’t do this ad, so we’re off the hook!) When we asked the rep why the ad didn’t fit the space properly, and why the publication didn’t contact the advertiser to discuss the problem, the answer was they’re so used to getting poorly-designed ads, they’ve just come to accept what they’re sent without question.
How shocking this answer was to us! And yet, it so perfectly identifies the state of things, not just within one specific industry but across many of the industries in which we work.
The real problem is that in the last several decades, the role of marketing has been relegated to fulfilling. In other words, it seems the task these days is to “get the ad into the pub,” and not worry about whether the ad is great and shifts the attention of the audience. Advertisements, websites, collateral and all other marketing communications are less effective today it seems because they’re just space-fillers. The media plan says they have to be there. So the result is lots of media space or air time taken up with ad messages that aren’t merely forgettable but are also not produced or placed that well.
So it’s time for anyone who is responsible for advertising and marketing to look in the mirror and ask, “Am I a fulfiller or a marketer? Is marketing a task to be checked off on my list of the day’s activities or do I delight in the prospect of arriving at a plan so smart and unexpected, it makes me giggle?” Fulfillment is great in the abstract, but a killer in business.
I’ve often said that marketing is a self-fulfilling prophesy: if you believe it works, you’ll invest yourself and your resources into it fully and – Voilà!- it works; or if you doubt its effectiveness, you’ll put in the minimal efforts (in other words, simply fulfill the order) without great enthusiasm and you’ll also be proven right.
Every piece of communication from your desktop is an opportunity to invigorate sales and renew a conversation with your customer…if you believe it will.
It means, in some cases, looking at the internal team who are engaged in your marketing. Are they people who majored in advertising and marketing in school, and are they still “students” of it today? Or did they move across from the HR or accounting department because nobody else wanted the job? Are they fully invested employing great marketing to grow your operation, or are they also juggling bookkeeping, sales, IT and family services all at the same time? Are you taking full advantage of outside resources who aren’t just design shops and web programmers but genuine marketing specialists, who will challenge and surprise you and are willing to own up to the results?
In other words, at the bottom line, is marketing a joy…or is it a job?
Think carefully about how you answer this. Because your company’s success hangs in the balance.
Rolf Gutknecht is vice president, director of account services for LA ads. To discuss your thoughts with Rolf on this blog or any marketing matters, email via this link, or visit www.LAadsMarketing.com. You can also connect with Rolf on LinkedIn.