For most of my life, I’ve held the opinion that marketing is bad.
I remember meeting someone in college who said they were majoring in marketing and advertising. I don’t remember my exact response, but I do remember saying something along the lines of:
“Oh … so you’re going to college to learn how to lie?”
I was so cynical about the way marketing usually gets done that I couldn’t help but respond with self-righteous disdain.
Luckily for me (and the people I come in contact each day), I’ve changed a little since college. In fact, if you ask me today whether I think marketing is good or not, I would probably argue that it’s one of the most honorable career disciplines a person could enter.
That’s because marketing, in its highest and most noble form, is fundamentally transparent marketing.
Transparent marketing is the kind of marketing that flows directly out of a value proposition. As long as a company can truthfully answer the question “If I am the ideal customer, why should I purchase from you rather than your competitors?” then marketing is merely a means of getting the truth out to people who need what the company offers. No exaggeration, no hype, and no outright lies necessary.
Of course, marketing has such a bad reputation these days because very few companies offer genuine value propositions. And as such, marketers are forced to inflate and hype their messaging to trick people into buying a sub-par product.
So what can you do if you’re a transparent marketer by nature who is stuck in a company without a value proposition? You have basically three options:
- Discover your value proposition
- Convince your CEO to deliver true value
- Get a new job
Option #1: Discover your value proposition
Discovering your value proposition, should it actually exist somewhere in your company, is not a new concept. We’ve written at length about this topic on this blog, and I won’t spend much time on it except to point you to a few resources.
Essentially, you must first determine if your company has a value proposition hidden deep in its core. To begin finding out, you might simply ask yourself if you believe the product you are trying to sell actually helps people. If it does, there’s probably a value proposition somewhere in your company’s makeup. Go digging.
Here are a few resources to help you along:
- Online Reviews: How to start discovering your value proposition with Yelp
- In Search of a Value Proposition — If you had just ten words with which to describe why people should buy your company’s products or service, what would you say?
- Value Proposition: How to use social media to help discover why customers buy from you
- How to Test Your Value Proposition Using a PPC Ad
- B2B Marketing: You don’t have to be CEO to move the needle with a value proposition
- Powerful Value Propositions, Part I
- Powerful Value Propositions, Part II
Option #2: Convince your CEO to deliver true value
If your company really doesn’t have a value proposition buried within, then it’s your job to convince your CEO to provide real value. It’s your job is because, with behavioral testing, you are the only one with access to the customer’s mind at large.
Sales and customer service don’t have this kind of insight. They only get a partial, often biased view of customers who are likely highly motivated and likely to buy … or highly upset with your product.
Business decisions based on data from Sales and customer service are highly vulnerable to selection effect.
There’s good news though: adding value to your product in a way that truly benefits your customers is always a good business decision. As Yvon Chouinard, Founder of Patagonia once said:
“Every time I’m stumped with a business problem, it doesn’t matter what it is, the answer is always ‘increase the quality.’ Always. And that’s not common in business. You get ‘Sales are low, decrease the quality, make it cheaper.’ If you increase the quality, you never go wrong. Whether it’s the quality of employee benefits or the product itself.”
Using your own data on what customers are truly interested in, it should be a fairly easy pitch for a sensible CEO. All you need to prove is how adding value will make the company more money.
A simple PPC test can give you all the data you need to make your pitch.
Option #3: Get a new job
If your company truly doesn’t have a value proposition, and your CEO refuses to create value, my only advice is “get out of there.” Those kinds of companies are surviving on pockets of ignorance. And simply surviving is a precarious state in an economic downturn. In fact, it’s probably only a matter of time before that company goes out of business.
Now of course, simply “getting a new job” is a lot easier said than done. But fortunately, if you’re reading this, you likely have the two most important traits that every job hunter must have: 1) human DNA and 2) marketing know-how.
Being a human being means that you inherently have a value proposition of your own. And being a marketer means that you can inherently communicate that value proposition to prospective companies.
All you need to do is answer the question, “If I am the ideal company, why should I hire you rather than any of the other applicants?”
The truth is, marketing is good, and there’s no reason to waste your time, and your career, trying to lie about a bad product that isn’t going to change.
Now, I’m a little biased, but I happen to believe that MECLABS (MarketingExperiments’ parent company) is one of the best possible places to work. Our value proposition drives everything we do, making it easy for our sales and marketing teams to promote and sell our offerings with a guilt-free conscience.
Likewise, the nature of what we do makes our HR team experts at identifying and evaluating marketers with great personal value propositions.
And, for those of you currently debating Option #3 — did I mention we’re hiring? Check out our career page for more info on our open positions.