Is Your Marketing Like Teaching a Dog to Read? Part 1

I had an accounting professor who told us a story about a colleague of his who decided to teach his dog to read. This professor crafter a full lesson plan and spent 12 weeks delivering a daily lecture to his dog. At the end of the semester, he certified that he had taught his dog to read. This obviously doesn’t actually mean the dog could read, but he delivered a beautifully, executed lesson plan.

This is a common occurance in Marketing, as well. It manifests itself in several ways:

Smaller, Emerging Growth Companies – Marketing Collateral Which Doesn’t Say Anything

A common challenge for smaller companies is the mistake that Marketing Communications equates to Marketing Strategy. The first thing early stage companies do is engage with a marcom firm and focus on building the prettiest branded website they can afford. Then they throw in the logo, marketing slicks, and a powerpoint. All of these are important, but they skip some important steps; like defining the product target audience, defining the value proposition, and mapping the features/functionality to the product benefits, validating the pricing and packaging, and then testing the messaging to make sure the priorities of the market are accounted for in their planning. This results in a marketing program that “teaches the dog to read”, but doesn’t actually communicate a clear call to action or even explain what the company does for whom…. the end result is that the actual communication and education about the product’s value has to actually occur during a sales call which isn’t very scalable. Part 2

Mid-Market Companies – Siloed Marketing Communications Channels

More established mid-market companies have a different problem in that they have mostly grown organically so they have done a good job of communicating the concept & value of their offerings. The common approach to marketing tends towards mimicking what larger, enterprise companies have done with a “pasta method” approach to marketing… throwing everything up against the wall to see what sticks… Without the coordination or the brand recognition of larger established brands, the market really doesn’t see the “get” the value of the offerings because there isn’t a cohesive multi-channel story. The lesson plan is a fully fleshed out lesson with multi-media slides, but you only get to hear half of it….

Established, Enterprise BrandsFighting Economies of Scale

Large enterprise brands have the resources and the history to communicate brand strategy. The challenge for large enterprises is the challenges of coordinating the vast organization to deliver a consistent message. A friend of mine told me about working with one major brand that had a different agency of record for each communication channel. And the different agencies didn’t play very nicely. Now, add in multiple products, divisions, and new communications channels. Large enterprises have the access to talent and the resources to deliver the “whole lesson plan”, but without the ability to coordinate, it is like having the lecture delivered by multiple professors on different campuses.

The rest of the series will focus on strategies to enable companies of different sizes to build sustainable foundations for communicating the value of the product offerings. At the end of the day, if you cannot get your message across in a way that is compelling & differentiated, translated into actionable prospect leads, and resulting in closed sales; it is like “teaching your dog to read.”

Part 2 – Emerging Growth Companies

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1 comment so far

  1. […] pricing, Product Roadmap, sales process, Social Media, value proposition, Website | In part 1 of this series, I shared a story about a professor who taught his dog to read… obviously, the […]


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