Brand Assassinators – Have You Hired On?

Congratulations, you’re one of those savvy business leaders who has invested in marketing! You have a great logo, a strong branding strategy, a comprehensive Marketing Plan and you’re actually executing to it – Well Done! But wait, why aren’t more leads converting? Why aren’t the phones ringing? Before you blame your strategy, take a closer look at your organization.

Sales and Marketing professionals are often assumed to be brand ambassadors for a company, unless they have become brand assassinators.

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Brand Assassinator # 1 – The Passive Salesperson

The best marketing strategy and strongest branding will be rendered useless if your salesperson is missing the mark. Case in point – we were poised to make a significant investment in our company, Vision Force Marketing. My business partner and I had researched our options and were within days of signing a contract. We ran into a rep from a company who we had forgotten served in this particular arena. Once my business partner determined that yes, they indeed worked on these sorts of things, we expected a “When do you have time to talk?” or “I’ll call you tomorrow.” Instead of taking a proactive approach, she said things like, “You still have my card don’t you?” and “Email what you’re looking for.” It was a curious response given we were willing to postpone our decision to include all viable vendors and we made it clear that we were ready to make our decision fast. After several minutes of this exchange it was clear this was one salesperson who had no sense of urgency. Silently I was saying, “If you really wanted our business, you’d be calling us.” We obviously selected another vendor.

Perhaps she didn’t believe we were about to make such a purchase, perhaps she knew her company wouldn’t deliver, perhaps she simply didn’t want our business. All I know is it gave me a great idea for a blog – because this isn’t the first time I’ve encountered the face of the company being out of step with their corporation’s vision. I wonder what the owner would’ve said had he been standing in front of us – given the dollar amount, I think the scenario would’ve played out rather differently. Therefore, the first thing you need to take a good hard look at is your sales force. How good are they – really?

Brand Assassinator # 2 – The Clueless Marketer

It never ceases to amaze me when someone who is in marketing, fails to focus on the part before the “ing”. If your marketing person isn’t paying attention to the market, your marketing budget is being wasted. This next event is another real-world example. I had met a fellow marketing professional and he, his boss, and I had an interesting conversation centered on the growth of their business. The boss told me to connect with his marketer. Within a couple of days, I came across information which was key for their industry. I immediately made a phone call and left a brief message explaining I had some information regarding our conversation. No return phone call to inquire further. We’re all busy, but after weeks without a return call I realized this was one business which wasn’t on the fast track for growth. Was the message accidentally deleted? Was the marketer fired just two days after I met him? Anything is possible, but more likely than not this was an example of a marketer who was 1) over-confident and doesn’t believe he needs anyone else’s help, or 2) he’s one of those marketers so focused on his direct mail piece (or other tactical things) that he will miss crucial pieces of his market every single time. Since the owner himself had asked me for my thoughts on this very subject, I’m pretty sure he would have appreciated the information his marketer blew off. This was just one piece of competitive intelligence, what other information is this person failing to obtain? The second thing you need to take a good hard look at is your marketing department – what are they really doing? Are they paying any attention to your market?

Why do I call these people out? Because, business owners and executives, these people work for you. I have heard your complaints and quite frankly, it doesn’t matter what strategies I help you develop, these types of individuals will continue to undermine your marketing efforts until you demand better representation. Your employees, and those you hire to represent your brand, will either be your greatest asset or your greatest liability. It will do you good to figure out which they are in your organization.