How Marketing and Other Technologies Take Business Leaders Down

Did you know that modern-day marketing and other technologies can actually hurt business leaders and in the worst scenarios take them down and out of business altogether?

It's also true that when you invest in the right technologies by empowering your best people to choose them based on their needs, your technology can lift you up to new levels of success. But the former is more often the case based on my direct experience as a trusted strategic marketing and business development advisor for many years.

I know a fair amount about the technology world well because I've lived on the front lines working with the leading technologies for over twenty years. Somehow I love learning and working in any technology that helps me and my clients align the people to the plan of action for revenue and success.

Listen to me say what you would otherwise read here.

Growing A Business Is Not Easy

Let's face it, starting and growing a small business isn't easy. And considering only about 3% of all businesses break through $1 million in revenue, you can see there must be a reason so many of us fail.

The biggest reason is a lack of good judgment as business owners and leaders. In the simplest sense, we do dumb things like blow precious start-up capital on fancy office furniture, or even worse, the software you think will "double your sales" even if it never can or will. We do many things wrong when it comes to technology because we don't know what we don't know about it, and we fear to ask for help or training or coaching because leaders with power don't like to feel or look stupid.

When it comes to today's technology, there are definitely some big blunders business leaders and owners make. The first and biggest is not being willing to learn the essential fundamentals of technology. If you can't speak the basic language of marketing automation, customer relationship management, search engines, social media management, content and lifecycle marketing, etc, how do you expect to lead the team who needs to respect you to do their job?

Another big mistake is winging it on technology or sticking your head in the sand pretending it will all go away when the power grid goes out. For example, I talk about not buying software in a seminar. It's based on a true story I've seen many times in which business owners buy software in a seminar and wonder why everyone back at the office is pissed.

None of this technology stuff will go away before you go out of business unless you get a grip on how marketing tech can hurt more than helping you.

Know the Fundamentals or Retire

It's essential for all business leaders to speak the fundamentals of technology and do what is suitable for their team. If not, you might as well retire.

Suitability is a term I borrow from my former business as an investment advisor and wealth manager for more than a decade. The investments we made for clients had to be "suitable" for their financial profile and needs. The same is true when business owners make investments in people or technology. It's all money and that money needs to have a return on investment unless you're a non-profit or have a big trust fund to deplete.

What I want to emphasize most is you as the owner and leader need to know enough to empower your people in marketing and sales so that they get what they need and are able to align and perform well. This is the primary way my strategic action planning process called Clarity makes an impact - we cut unnecessary costs and focus on empowering people with the technologies they choose to use to do their jobs.

You have to plan to make technology work for your company or business. This begins with everyone willing to be trained, coached and advisors who are not selling software or making a direct living by selling software. If the software is one of the biggest investments you make to empower people, and people you hire are by far the most important capital for you to grow without losing your mind or shirt, why would you buy software from Dundersoft while attending a motivational seminar?

You can see I'm using hyperbole to make a point - business owners and leaders need to learn what NOT to do. Then, like all great strategists, we can focus on what to do next.

That's how a life-long sales, marketing technologist, and business owner strategist approaches getting to more revenue and operational stability. Getting a grip on the tech is just part of the bigger strategic planning objectives we meet. But it's a big one that creates a lot of conscious and unconscious fear and mayhem. I know because I've eliminated this mayhem hundred of times from all kinds of companies.

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What Are You Talking About When It Comes to Making Your Marketing Work?

In case you're short on time, watch this video.

This article is about the conversations we have as CEO's, business owners and leaders with the people we employ in sales, marketing, technology, talent acquisition, and strategic alignment for better business performance.

Did you know that the words you use affect how you think and behave? That's the bold and brave science of Linguistic Relativity. If you don't know the work of Nora Lidisky*, you need to check out her TED Talk. First, read the rest of this article because then you will have proper context for what you're talking about most in your business.

Having a conversation is a two-way street. When you endure the stress of making your marketing and sales work, the stress compels you to have crucial conversations without letting emotion take over and ruin you.

When it comes to making your marketing work with less cost and stress, what conversations are you having? I ask because I find most CEO's and business owners are not having essential, crucial conversations with their marketing and salespeople.

The High Cost of Winging It

In the worst cases, small business owners completely wing it when it comes to investing in sales, marketing, people, or technology to grow their business, which is typically the best investment they will ever make. Then they wonder why their investment returns are low and their frustration levels are high.

"We spent another $100,000 and a year trying to launch my product. This is the third agency I hired. They all said they could get this done. I ended up losing three years and $300,000 for nothing." - Anonymous New York Times bestselling author.

I hear hundreds of stories like this because people find me and need help fixing their pain which is not being able to attract, engage, convert, and retain enough customers. That's because they don't have a sound strategy, plan of action, or the people they need to get the job done right the first time.

What happens when you wing it in business, sales, marketing, or hiring people? Utter chaos. Nobody enjoys coming to work without feeling aligned with the leader, owner, manager, and team. That's why it's essential to talk about what's working, what's not working, what's missing in marketing or sales or customer service, and figure out what's next to fix it and get better results. This is crucial conversation stuff for marketing, sales, and tech.

This Is Why Marketing Pros Change Jobs So Often

Turnover is a massive cost and hit to your bottom line. There's no reason not to get to the root cause of this and fix it as best you can.

The reason marketing pros change jobs so often is the same reason Marcus Buckingham with Gallup discovered over a decade ago - marketing people don't leave jobs, they leave their marketing supervisors. Check out this article about what great managers do in this HBR article. The bottom line is people leave supervisors, not jobs or companies.

When we talk about marketing, it's usually not fun. That's because marketing is a game of frustration and failure. Think about the thin margins for conversion rates on your marketing investments. For example, what was the ROI on that big trade show you and your team hits every year?

Sometimes you don't know the questions to ask because you're too busy working in your business. I can be guilty of this too. But since I sell a powerful strategic action planning process that aligns and fires up marketing and sales teams, I must walk the walk. That means I follow my process, hire the best people my money can buy, delegate what is not my role or responsibility, empower everyone in my strategy, purpose, vision, mission, goals, and plan of action, and we get better results together. Yes, I have an active, written strategic plan. Most days it works.

We Fear Hiring the Best and Firing the Rest

We've all hired toxic people and let them work for us too long. That's because it's hard to fire people. Yet one of the biggest costs we incur as business owners is failing to hire with process and discipline. If you fail to hire the best people you afford, and you delegate well to empower them, then get out of their way, you've got a shot at scale and sanity presuming you lead and manage well. If not, oh well. Maybe you'll learn when you fail enough. When it comes to making the tough call to let someone go, you have to have a process to fire anyone who's not willing or able to perform their role on their team. This is what a "culture of accountability" is all about.

A high-performance sales and marketing culture MUST be created, committed to and lead by someone who IS that person. If it's not the owner of the business, he or she needs to hire someone to lead the team. A true leader will practice tough love and empower your marketing and salespeople. You have to be what you say you plan to do with your action plan. This is the Clarity strategic planning process teaches you to "hire to the company values you are willing to write, learn, practice and keep as commitments."

If you own the business and you manage marketing, sales, delivery, and fulfillment, how effective do you believe you are? When was the last time you conducted a 360 degree feedback survey or took a hard look in your mirror? It's not easy to own or lead any business. It's even tougher to manage marketing and sales. It's impossible to do it all for long. All we need to do is look at how few of us succeed over the long-haul. The people who succeed have a strategic plan of action that gets implemented with success. This is what happens when everyone aligns and does their part of the plan. Everyone performs like a championship team.

How to Make Your Marketing Work Without Losing Your Mind or Shirt

The way to make your marketing work better, and to fire up your sales process is to empower your PEOPLE to be part of the creative, strategic and tactical PROCESS to define and achieve the GOALS. Clarity is a bullet-proof action planning solution that works when you work it. That's why I focus on teaching, training, and coaching the Clarity workshops online and in the real world.

Make the time to work "on" your business. Why would you ever stop working "on" your business? Because you get stuck working "in" your business just like Michael Gerber taught us in his bestselling book, EMyth. Clarity helps you work "on" your business with your team. Diversity and inclusion make the Clarity process even more powerful. The extreme alternative is you think and plan alone in a box. Clarity is about thinking OUT of the box. And getting results.

Check out my video that walks you through a FREE Clarity Training preview. Take a look at the simple, step-by-step process I use myself and have taught and coached for over a decade to hundreds of other business owners. Clarity is a strategic action planning process you can use to write your own strategic plan. I teach it in customized onsite workshops, virtually, and soon the online classes and community for coaching.

P.S. *A big shout out and thank you to Paul Gowin, one of the best human performance coaches I've ever met.

Why I Chose to Focus On Training and Coaching Marketing Managers and Marketing Directors

Working in a marketing job, or managing your own marketing for your small business is one of the toughest jobs in the world. The truth is, marketing is a game of failure because most marketing campaigns successes are measured in small percentages. But that's okay as long as you have outstanding marketing management disciplines.

I get to create new online and real-world training and coaching programs now that I've sold my digital marketing agency. Having worked in sales and marketing my entire professional life, I've got some war wounds.

The reason I focus on working with marketing managers, directors and small business owners who need to get out of their own way and build a small, in-house marketing team, is because I know how difficult the work can be and I created a system to ease the pain.

How To Get "Clarity" and Confidence in Marketing and Sales

The system I created is called Clarity. It's a strategic action planning process I've used with my own businesses and thousands of others since I started using it in 2007. My online courses will soon be featured on a brand new online learning platform.

The current version of Clarity emerged from earlier action planning models I used to set up marketing automation software for my customers between 2008 and now. I was one of the earliest marketing automation guys on the planet because I have always loved buying and using any software tool or system that can help me be more efficient with my marketing and managing a business.

Here are a few suggestions if you're wondering how to get better sales and marketing results with less stress, time and money:

  1. Business, sales, and marketing are team sports. If you need customers, you need to contact many prospects. So all of this marketing stuff is about helping you make contact with people who might do business with you.
  2. Most small business owners and big-time CEO's can't or won't manage their own marketing. Small business owners often blow it after they get the basics. It's not easy to learn to trust and delegate. Every big company CEO already knows better, and they can well afford to hire others to do what they do best.
  3. If you don't have a written, strategic plan of action, let me help you write one. Include your key, valued people in marketing, sales, and finance in the process. When you have a sound plan, you will have "clarity" and you will know exactly how to market and sell with the utmost efficiency.
  4. Hire the best advisors, employees, and contractors your money can buy. Ditch the rest. You can't afford to hire and pay people who can't or won't get the job done right the first time. If you don't the roles, the jobs, how can you hire and manage effectively?
  5. Wake every day with a strategy and team you believe in. Work from a serious, shared plan of action. Measure everything in sales and marketing. Manage it all like your business is your best investment because it is.

Gratitude Counts

I'm grateful for my experience as a career sales and marketing guy. One of the biggest transitions I made over the years was learning to invest wisely in marketing to build my own small businesses. When you work for a company and you invest their money, not yours, the emotions are much different compared to when you invest in your own business.

Either way, one of the biggest and most-costly mistakes for business owners, leaders, and even some of the world's most famous business people, have to rely on the right marketing professionals to get the job done.

Now you have a simple list of things to consider if you want to get better business, sales and marketing results.

Clarity gives you confidence. That's why I called my company Clarity Strategic Advisors, LLC.

Let us give you clarity and confidence so you can sleep well at night.

Got a question or comment that's constructive? Please add it to the comments section.

How To Go-To-Market With Confidence

When it comes to getting enough new customers to fuel your pipeline and cash flow, what does it take to go to market with confidence?

If life is a game of confidence, then building and succeeding in the small business world could be the Olympics. It's not easy to start, fund and build and successful business. It takes capital, hard work, sales, marketing and more.

Follow these steps and never stop learning how to optimize the ROI on your sales and marketing investments. After all, investing in the growth of your small business could be the best investment of all. But you need to make sure you have the best people, products and process to go-to-market consistently with confidence.

  1. Create a written plan of action for success.
  2. Focus on one business goal at a time.
  3. Be clear on your vision.
  4. Be clear on your purpose.
  5. Know your strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats.
  6. Define your ideal customer.
  7. Know your customer's pain.
  8. Solve your customer's pain.
  9. Commit to your values for excellence.
  10. Build a bold brand identity.
  11. Craft a compelling story.
  12. Invest in marketing that works.
  13. Sell and enroll new customers.
  14. Deliver the promise - fulfill.
  15. Celebrate the lessons learned.
  16. Measure, review results, learn, adapt.
  17. Build a business financial fortress.
  18. Build a personal financial fortress.
  19. Celebrate a life of wealth and significance.

If any of these go-to-market plan elements look familiar to you from past business and marketing plans, that's okay. The key is to make your business plan, especially if it's for internal use only, and not for raising new capital, then make it a living, breathing document that you and your people can easily manage and update for each, new stage of growth.

The truth is lots of people set goals to own a business, grow a business, etc. But most small business owners get too stuck working "in" their business, not "on" it. This is one reason millions of small businesses remain small - not enough time to work on refining strategy, plan, tactics, results tracking or the other essential elements for sales, marketing and small business success.

Got a question or comment about how to go-to-market with more confidence?

I always appreciate your comments and questions posted here on the blog, or contact me through the website, email or social media.