6 free but difficult things that’ll make your marketing better

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Harendra Kapur

19. 08. 2019 | 4 min read

6 free but difficult things that’ll make your marketing better

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When you work in an agency, you spend a lot of time wishing your clients had more money.

Not just because we like buying nice things. But because so often a client’s ambition exceeds their resources.

In fact, the best clients’ ambitions invariably exceed their resources.

The thing is, money isn’t the only lever you can pull when you’re an ambitious marketer.

In fact, to do really great marketing – work that really moves a market in a meaningful way – most of the levers you should be pulling have nothing to do with money.

So here’s a short list of smart moves you can make for free. The only catch? In most businesses (especially the big ones) these moves are incredibly difficult to make.

Difficult. But not impossible.

Move #1: Talk to your damn customers. Like, really talk to them.

Way too many businesses I’ve worked with have struggled to get access to customers. They’re kept far, far away from the marketing team.

You’re lucky if you can get a case study.

It’s kind of ridiculous. How are you supposed to do effective marketing if you don’t have access to the actual market?

At the same time, you have salespeople and account executives who, for good reason, don’t want marketing burning social capital with customers unnecessarily.

So it’s a hard sell convincing them to let you in. But the price you pay for not talking to your customers is irrelevant marketing.

Too damn high.

Insist on QBRs. Talk to the people who talk to the customers. Hunt them down and knock on their front doors in the middle of the night. Whatever it takes, it’s worth it.

Move #2: Make your people famous.

I’m really not one for any of the faff about ‘personal brands’ and ‘influencers’. But it is true that smart individuals on the internet can aggregate audiences for themselves to a far greater degree than they used to be able to.

In some cases, they even become bigger than the businesses they work for.

The problem: a lot of brands get nervous about making anyone in the business too famous. For fear they’ll leave and take their giant brands with them.

Here’s my response: that’s stupid. You can’t solve problems you don’t already have.

Invest in your people. Show the world you have the smart ones. Show the smart ones you care enough about them to invest marketing effort in them.

Move #3: Talk to real experts – not just available experts.

Here’s something you hear a lot when you’re working in a team that doesn’t have a big budget.

“We’ll never get them.”

You’d be surprised. Almost every time we’ve assumed we couldn’t find someone we wanted to talk to, we’ve proved ourselves wrong two years later.

Talking to experts with real skin in the game and featuring their expertise in your marketing isn’t just a nice-to-have. It’s value.

Don’t give it up without a fight.

Move #4: Become friends with product and sales.

When product and sales teams don’t trust marketing, marketing is effectively cut out of the business.

The problem is that marketing does still own the funnel and without leads sales will eventually suffer.

On our side, marketing loses contact with the people who do have actual contact with the market. With the people who are deciding how the company will respond to the market.

No matter how bad the politics, how deep-seeded the animus towards marketing, it will always be worth your time fixing these relationships.

So fix them. It won’t cost you anything but time, energy and political capital.

Move #5: Slow the hell down.

Here’s something you can do for free right now.

That thing you’re producing that isn’t quite good enough? Stop the whole process. Go back to scratch. Fix it.

Let your stakeholders down. Let your haters say marketing moves too slowly. Let your own team get frustrated with your flip-flopping.

But if you’re going to make something for your market, take every additional second you can to make it great.

Because if it is, and your market digs it, nothing else matters.

Move #6: Tell your stakeholders they’re wrong.

There’s nothing worse than a scared, skittish marketing team. And there’s nothing better than a marketing team that’s confident enough to assert how things should be done.

Sure, you could spend all your time getting all your stakeholders to agree. But the market doesn’t give one single crap about how much you agree.

They care how right you are. They care about what you do for them. They care that you aren’t wasting their damn time.

So if you’re worried about pleasing everyone but also secretly worried the work you’re producing isn’t very good, take a step back and remember what matters.

(It ain’t consensus.)

If you can think of any other hard but free moves that made your marketing better, quit screwing around and drop us a comment.

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  1. Salim Zia


    August 22nd, 2019

    Please share B2B marketing tips.

  2. Angelina

    Branding Marketing Agency

    August 30th, 2019

    Hey there,
    Great work !! I must appreciate all the main points important for B2B marketing are covered.
    Especially, for small businesses, one needs to keep constant touch with their customers as you said in the first point.
    The buying process in such small companies takes longer time.

  3. Marty Rogers

    Paramount Digital

    September 16th, 2019

    Number 2 is a great one, and one that a lot of businesses are scared of doing so that they keep 100% of the focus on them and the business entity. But when you think about it, it makes perfect sense to display your staff and how much knowledge and expertise they possess, and that’s something we’re looking to expand upon as we launch our new website.

    1. Harendra Kapur

      September 20th, 2019

      That’s great Marty. I’m sure it’ll pay off and I’m sure those smart, talented people will appreciate you making the effort for them. Good luck!

  4. Jake Waddell

    Magic Pudding Communication

    September 18th, 2019

    Take a risk. It’s much easier to stick to the same things, roll out marketing which delivers solid returns than to try something a bit different, a bit risky which has the potential to deliver cracking returns. The difficulty is getting your stakeholders to back you.

    1. Harendra Kapur

      September 20th, 2019

      YES! I think most of the ‘risks’ we worry about (alienating some prospects, being too brash, going off-brand) are actually a lot less risky than they seem.

      Marketing is risk-taking. It has to be.

  5. Belle M

    October 2nd, 2019

    Number 6 resonates so much with me. I didn’t have the confidence or the cred to stand up for my writing and it was edited into oblivion by my stakeholders. The end result was a mish-mash of voices and sales fluff that didn’t match the tone we were trying to achieve. I ended up leaving because all they wanted was a sales pitch, thinly disguised as helpful content.

    1. Harendra Kapur

      October 8th, 2019

      Belle – that sucks. But it sounds like you probably made the right move for yourself so kudos.

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