Partners for growth or charlatans?

Two recent meetings with prospective clients have left me heartbroken about the state of my profession’s reputation – I never had these problems when I worked at PWC – quite the opposite in fact and I know I haven’t changed. So what on earth is going on?

Marketing has apparently become the closest thing yet to selling double glazing or estate agency (no offence intended guys!) and all because too many people are claiming to be an expert in too many things that frankly haven’t been around long enough for anyone to be able to lay claim to that title unequivocally – although I do concede some people know more about some things than others…

I am passionate about the marketing profession and the positive role we have to play in the good fortune of all businesses, but when did we stop listening and start blinding people with science?
After both meetings I was told we had a very unusual approach – we wanted them to do the talking. How else are we supposed to come up with the right strategy if we don’t listen first? And, if we are unusual, what on earth is everyone else doing?

Promising the earth and delivering nothing apparently! Jumping on every bandwagon available and giving it Holy Grail status. Claiming print is dead and everyone has an iPad.

The issue for agencies seems to be one of desperate times – everyone needs to earn a living and no-one wants to get left behind. There is a plethora of new marketing techniques and communication platforms available and a fear that if you don’t suggest the latest social media channel at every meeting you’ll appear to be out of touch – regardless of whether or not it’s required.

Frankly, a lot of people are confused. One comment that was made to me resonated:

“In the good old days you bought some ad space, you sent out a press release, you got something tangible for your money – a cool TV ad, a gorgeous brochure, and coverage in the nationals…

There was less choice and it was easier to make a decision.”

If we are ever to be trusted as a profession, we have a responsibility to be straight with people and really understand the tools we now have at our disposal. But, and it’s a big but, what was always important is still important.

Do the research, understand the objectives, get to know the audience, then use the right tools to get the job done…and don’t muck about!