marketing and sales executives from Silicon Valley

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Is there a limit to Marketing Effort?

In my early days of marketing, I was an operational machine and proud of it. Too proud of it.

At the time I worked for an Asian networking equipment manufacturer, managed product and corporate marketing, product management, and customer service. I was given responsibility because I could simply do everything that was asked. All told, I had check list of 120 marketing task items that I managed, doing all of them on time and on budget while leading the company's marketing efforts from zero to millions in revenue.

I was doing a great job and executing on everything. I earned media placements, replaced competitors, and amazed my friends and co-workers with my efforts. With that success in my rear view mirror and wins that few people have replicated, I eventually realized that I was misguided -- and misdirected.

The constant lack of budget meant that my team constantly tried to do everything ourselves. We rarely hired contractors as there was little time to train them, and instead depended on overusing internal staff to design posters and print ads that were beyond our skill-sets. Worse yet, we did everything because the highest ranking executives said so.

Doing what I was told kept me employed, but it also cost the company untold revenues. Luckily, in the course of doing everything and interacting with customer and prospects, I gathered information about the real cost of marketing to our premium prospects. These prospects pointed out that we were absent from a few pricey marketing events that our competitors attended, but more importantly, the competitors at those events all had premium customer contracts. The events? Telecomm and Carrier association meetings. Our President had fit at the price of joining, but literally, within 3 months of paying the hefty fees and participating in the first events, we were in negotiations with a telco for a trial.

From then on, I stopped the team from doing everything, and focused on those things that had clear impact and actionable customer value. I was fortunate to learn that it wasn't all about effort. It was about impact and moving the needle.

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