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  • John Walker

Why business owners deserve marketing guidance not sales pitches

Updated: Jul 24, 2019



Business owners are besieged with sales pitches for marketing services. And the calls are coming from all angles: national media companies like Yelp, local TV stations, newspapers, marketing agencies, and digital marketing specialists in areas like search engine optimization.


For business owners, this onslaught is overwhelming and the result is shut down. Business owners don’t know who to trust and they just want to retreat. But this can leave them uninformed about marketing, a critical activity for their business.


So why is this sales onslaught happening? What’s going on?


What’s going on is that the pace of change within the marketing and advertising world is increasing. Innovations are happening rapidly and the institutions that used to provide structure are breaking down and being replaced by new structures. Here’s what I mean.

For small business owners, local media companies used to be their primary marketing resources. The local newspaper, radio or TV station, and outdoor advertising company used to be able to deliver the audiences small business needed to make sales and build their businesses. And larger businesses used to be able to rely on advertising agencies for planning, research, creative, media placement, and even advice on business strategy. These media companies and ad agencies used to be able to deliver marketing solutions that worked and they became trusted advisors to business owners.


But new consumer habits and marketing technology have changed the media landscape so profoundly that the old advertising solutions don’t work as well anymore. Facebook and Google are now the dominant advertising platforms. Media companies like Yelp have replaced the Yellow Pages. Gaining visibility in search engines is now critical. And the audiences that business owners need to reach are more fragmented, more mobile, and more discerning than ever before. Local media companies and ad agencies, formerly the trusted advisors, are now scrambling to figure out where they fit in with the powerful digital advertising platforms.


The result is more marketing solutions competing for the same dollars in a hyper-competitive sales environment. Business owners see this, feel this, and suffer from this. What’s the solution?


Business owners need a trusted marketing advisor to sort out the solutions and guide them with a plan. This can be an in-house marketing director or it can be a fee-only advisor who is paid for advice and is not incentivized to sell one advertising solution or another. Some ad agencies even play this role. But there’s another critical point.


Because there are so many advertising solutions competing for the consumers’ fragmented attention span, it’s critical to get back to marketing basics. This means that businesses need to do a very good job of defining what makes them different from their competitors, and it means focusing narrowly on particular audiences they want to serve. Marketing messages need to be distinct and they need to break through. Media plans need to be as creative as the ads themselves. Just following the herd onto Facebook is not the answer and it won’t deliver superior marketing results.


So as the marketing ecosystem sorts itself out, I see two new trends emerging. First, there will be a rise in marketing consultants who help business owners navigate the confusion. And second, there will be a return to the marketing principles that have always delivered results- distinct positioning, powerful messaging and real creativity in media planning and placement.


This post was written by John Walker, Founder and Principal at J. Walker Marketing. Contact John directly to discuss your marketing challenges. John@JWalkerMktg.com.