What Marketing Can’t Fix

confused rep

As many of you know, I lost my dear, sweet boy, Ozzy, to congestive heart failure early in November. Now, a glutton for the next heartbreak, I’m looking for a new pup and have reached out to two well-known, nonprofit rescue shelters in Franklin, to one of which I’m a regular, monthly donor. What I experienced in the process was nothing short of appalling, an experience so bad that I shall never donate money to them or consider working with them for adoption due to their gross indifference and inexcusably piss-poor handling of me as an applicant. Sure, they’re nonprofits run by volunteers, so I’m not expecting a Four Seasons experience, BUT any entity attempting to sell something – even if that something is donations – at a minimum should treat those attempting to give them money with some care and respect.

But to the point: Their marketing worked and got me to notice them, go to their website, fill in an application that took well over 30 minutes, organize and provide references, and show up with check in hand, ready to buy. I then proceeded to attempt to call (I was then told, “We don’t have a phone”), repeatedly e-mailed about the status of an adoption I was told wasn’t available anymore, to then see additional ads run for the same pup. I e-mailed more, only to get no communication back other than “I can’t help you with this, it’s up to your coordinator,” who was as useful as an ashtray on a motorcycle, unable to answer simple questions like, “How do I meet the pup before adopting?”, being told “you can’t due to Covid” with no additional information or direction. This miserable mishandling of my inquiry caused me to stuff my $1,000 donation back in my pocket to take elsewhere – a donation I offered for a particular pup that was over four times higher than their required $240 adoption fee. I didn’t do that to bribe them, but to give to the charity simply to help them out. You would think with them being “overwhelmed with animals needing a home” per their marketing, they would be trying at least a little bit harder to rope someone like me in, although I didn’t need roping; just someone who could take my money. On further investigation, I discovered they had one-star reviews that mirrored my exact experience, so this is clearly not “just me.”

And THAT’S what marketing cannot fix. An utter lack of respect for the opportunities it provides. As someone who’s been in sales for over 30 years and now over two decades in advertising and marketing, working with thousands of businesses, I’ve learned a thing or two. And the biggest one is the severe limitation of what marketing can do.

Early on, I truly believed that a good sales letter could fix anything – that it was magical, powerful and amazing in every way. Today, I realize it is not. Marketing, and more specifically lead generation marketing, is nothing more than a shy opportunity winking at you. A slightly flirtatious, cautious conversation with an object of desire at the bar – nothing more. No guarantees of anything beyond that unless sweet talked, cajoled, coaxed and earned. No “jump to bed” and “let’s name our kids.” Success in business is even more demanding and requires even greater care and attention to see something to its successful end. Yes, you desperately need marketing to make that phone ring, but WHEN it rings and WHEN opportunity shows up, you need to be extremely prepared, diligent, intent on fanning the flames and not letting the spark die.

This is the area I cannot fix for my clients, thereby making marketing “limited” in its power and ability. Many feel that marketing is a total failure if a perfect lead doesn’t show up with check in hand, ready to buy without any questions, without any need for follow-up or pursuit. Well, they’ll grow cobwebs waiting for that train to arrive. Further, once given a shy opportunity, you must be practice and prepared. You must be able to masterfully follow up, get the appointment, overcome inertia, ignorance, procrastination and delay. Otherwise, you’re burning opportunities.

So, as we wrap up what has been a miserable year for many, I hope the thinned-out opportunities that many have experienced will give them renewed appreciation for such opportunities offered by marketing and, with renewed enthusiasm, put more focus, more attention, more effort into making sure NONE are slipping through the cracks due to the three amigos of random, careless and sloppy.