Marketing is a Reluctant, Necessary Evil

CHICAGO – Are you a reluctant marketer? The first indication that you might be a reluctant marketer is you’ve eyed the word “marketing” and you’re reluctantly still reading this column. If you need stronger evidence, it’s time to assess your RQ.

The reluctance quotient test is quick and painless. Quickly scan the following list and keep track of how many statements sound like you:

You find it hard to find time to even think about marketing because you have so many other priorities.
You’re trying to conserve every penny. Spending scarce funds on marketing just doesn’t seem justifiable.
You hate to invest in projects with questionable returns.
You prefer tangible results and become impatient with abstract concepts.
You’ve heard one too many horror stories about marketing budgets that don’t produce results.
You dislike conversations with vague, unfamiliar vocabulary.
You’ve marketed ideas before but have always come up short.
The kind of networking you enjoy involves software and routers rather than social events and cocktail parties.
You never quite thought of a “marketing major” as a real degree.
You secretly believe there’s a special place in hell for most salespeople.
The more statements that match your mindset, the greater your marketing reluctance. If five or more items exude you, you’re a full-fledged reluctant marketer. Even if you answered only one item “yes,” you are experiencing some degree of marketing reluctance.

You are hardly alone. Reluctant marketers are everywhere and come in all shapes, sizes and situations. They include:

Gurus with terrific technologies but few customers
Start-ups starting out on a shoestring budget
Entrepreneurs more comfortable with spreadsheets than marketing plans
Techies who prefer doing work more than talking about it
Professionals who despise “schmoozing”
Executives with non-marketing backgrounds leading marketing functions and staffs
Individuals marketing themselves in the job market
While there may be as many reasons for reluctance as there are reluctant marketers, below are some of the more common causes.

The Uninspired

These people have never quite been convinced of why marketing makes a difference. Besides, they have heard countless stories of marketing efforts gone awry and want to avoid painful failures.
The uninspired need help understanding the critical role that marketing an idea, product or service has in ultimate business success.

The Uninitiated

These souls lack exposure to marketing because their career objectives have focused elsewhere.
Life sometimes offers cruel twists of fate. People with extensive training in complex subjects such as engineering or finance find themselves with newfound responsibility for marketing. The uninitiated need to know about essential marketing concepts and skills to survive.

The Unprepared

While open to learning more about marketing, the unprepared can be flummoxed by the confusing variety of marketing tasks. The unprepared need help in better understanding the specific roles and responsibilities to successfully get to market.
The Under Funded

Let’s face it: many a executive – whether Fortune 500 or start-up entrepreneur – faces the challenge of making marketing happen on a shoestring budget. The under funded need to know how to be creative and make marketing happen with limited resources.
Regardless of how you got here, welcome home. Think of this column as a safe haven for everyone who has to sell but wishes they didn’t. Beginning today on ePrairie, The Reluctant Marketer embarks on a weekly mission to help you:

Demystify the obscure by eliminating or explaining the jargon and buzzwords used by marketing professionals.
Separate fad and fact: The good news is that success in marketing is more about simple concepts and hard work than fads and gimmicks.
Distinguish hype and help: Like any other discipline, you can find the brilliant, insightful and productive. You can also find the incompetent and the dishonest. I’ll help you discern the difference.
Develop practical, usable ideas: You can take comfort that someone – somewhere – has faced the same challenges as you and has succeeded. I’ll provide examples of problems solved and innovations employed.

While none of us have to like it, the truth is that business success can’t begin until someone sells something. With some help and a bit of humor, you can survive the marketing challenge and perhaps even learn to enjoy the process. See you next week!