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Why Marketers and Owners Don’t Always See Eye To Eye

How many marketers have rolled their eyes because a firm owner “just didn’t get it?”

How many owners have wished marketers would stop for a second to appreciate that they know what they’re talking about?

Today, I’m going to share why this division exists. Plus, I’ll explain how the late 80s hair-metal group, Extreme can help come to grips with this situation.

Shadow Boxers

I know what you are thinking. How can the love ballad, “More Than Words,” help here?


It can’t. No, we’ll have to dig deep into Extreme’s discography, deeper than anyone would ever care to go, to find our answer.

Hey, nobody can deny that More Than Words is a catchy tune. If back in the day, you bought the cassette single…nobody could blame you.

And if you decided to buy their album…well, maybe you thought you’d find some other catchy, toe-tapping, gems. Who can judge you for that?

But, if like me, you didn’t do any of that and made the conscious choice to buy their follow-up album…

…there is no way to justify that. And you better find a way to rationalize that $15 investment. It has taken 24 years, but I’ve done it.

It, in fact, provides the answer to this age-old dilemma.

3 Sides The Every Story


The concept behind Extreme’s “III Sides” album is there are three sides to every story:

  1. Yours
  2. His/Hers
  3. The Truth

Now, let’s apply this concept to marketers and owners.


As a marketer, you’re hired by an owner (or member of his/her leadership). Your job is to grow their business.

You’ve gone through four years of school. You’ve attended classes, read books, and sat through presentations about marketing. You may have even taken tests and been certified. Marketing is what you do. You live and breathe it.

But when you tell Owners how to market their business, what do they say? No.

“We will do it my way.”

Huh?!? What?!?

Let’s get this straight. They are a technical professional. They have a technical degree. They took technical classes. All day long, they work on management and technical related things.

They have NO marketing training. Zero. Zilch.

They think the choice between the shotgun and rifle approach is made based on the animal you are hunting. They think a vertical is a measurement of height.

And when you talk about marketing, they look at you like you are from Mars.

It’s shocking and disturbing that they’ve been in business this long without an ounce of marketing.

You give them the answers they need. But they don’t listen to you, which seeing that they hired you for marketing is incredibly ironic…

…monumentally stupid…

…and wasting everyone’s time.

You see other marketers, like that lady from the construction company. Her firm made her Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). They gave her a “seat at the table.” They listen.

Why are you wasting your time with your owner?

The audacity of these owners is only matched by their naivety.


As an owner, the first thing you do isn’t hire a marketer. No. You start small (maybe one or two people). Over a few years, you bring in clients, do great work, and build your business into a multi-million-dollar operation.

Only then would you consider hiring a marketer to assist you in further building that business. And you’re not hiring Seth Godin or David Ogilvy. No, you are hiring a kid a few years out of college.

So, this kid comes in and tells you that you’re doing everything wrong.


You’ve built a multi-million-dollar business.

What have they done?

What qualifies them to say their way is right and yours is wrong? A piece of paper and a few classes?

You’ve learned from real world experience. If what you do is wrong, you wouldn’t have been able to build a business big enough to hire them. Right?!?

Now the marketers want a “seat at the table.” But they are not professionals licensed by the state. In some states, giving them a “seat at the table” would make your firm INELIGIBLE to perform professional services. Why would you kill, or even jeopardize, the business you built just to make some kid feel important?!?!

The audacity of these marketers is only matched by their naivety.

The Truth

The truth is the third side. The truth is sometimes hard to hear, particularly because it doesn’t align exactly with the marketer’s or owner’s perspectives.

It is true. Those marketers haven’t built a multi-million-dollar business before. If they had, they wouldn’t be working for owners. They have to recognize, appreciate, and accept that fact. For any owner to blindly follow their direction would be foolhardy.

Marketers also have to recognize and appreciate that owners are not going to give just anyone a significant ownership stake in your business. Further, marketers have to understand whether that would even be viable in their firm’s situation.

On the other hand, owners have to recognize what they don’t know. Yes, it’s OK to ask your marketer to backup their advice. It’s OK not to blindly follow some kid’s advice.

But it is not OK to assume. It’s not OK to assume you know anything you don’t have solid written data to back up.

Yes, nobody knows your business better than you. But that’s like saying nobody knows your body better than you. It’s logical to feel that way. But if a blood test says you’ve got cancer…

…you’ve got to accept that data doesn’t lie.

Yes, your grandmother smoked three packs a day and lived till 107. But that’s not proof that cigarettes are healthy. It doesn’t justify ignoring your doctor’s data.

Owners like to think their business is unique. But the reality is that while every business is unique, just like every body is unique,

When your doctor, or marketer, shows you proof, you must accept it for what it is…


Why Owner’s and Marketers Don’t Always See Eye To Eye

You have to remember that there are three sides to every story. And while your side is right, it’s never the whole story. You have to look at every issue from all three sides.

3 Big Takeaways From Build Business 2016

Last week, I attended the Society Of Marketing Professional Services’s Build Business Conference here in Philadelphia. It’s the biggest conference related to marketing and business development in the construction industry.

Here are my three biggest takeaways from the week.

Forget Hamilton…Be Like Thomas Jefferson (Or Maybe Michelle Martin)

Thomas Jefferson at Build Business

Before the conference even started, I participated in this year’s “Side X Side” event. Side X Side is when the members of SMPS get together and do something positive for the local community. This year, we accompanied a group of inner-city kids on a field trip to the Franklin Institute.

It was your typical “Philadelphia field trip.” Big statues of Ben Franklin, electricity, and yes…someone dressed up like one of our founding fathers.

Now, if you are from the Philadelphia area, you’ve seen more people dressed up like founding fathers than you’d care to remember. If you are unfamiliar with the area, trust me there are lots of Ben Franklins, George Washingtons, and even Betsy Rosses to be seen here in the “City of Brotherly Love.”

After many years, you can get a little sick of it. So, when Thomas Jefferson stops by during lunch, my brain immediately sends a message to my eyes. “Start rolling.”

But I have to say, Tommy Jefferson won me over. To be fair, it was his message that won me over.

Jefferson explained that he was obsessed with fixing things he didn’t like. He didn’t like the architecture in his city, so he became an architect and changed it. He didn’t like the education system in Virginia, so he created Virginia State University. He didn’t like the government, so he wrote a document that started a war for independence.

Jefferson was a person who took action. His message seemed to sink in with many of the kids in attendance. Complaining doesn’t get you anywhere. If you have something to complain about, you can take action to fix it.

Michelle Martin, Marketing Manager, of SmithGroupJJR told her story of action in a conference session a few days later. She was having the all too common proposal-related issues with the technical staff. While many people just complain, she took action.

You might say she took an extreme amount of action. She did a great deal of statistical analysis of the firm’s proposal efforts. She opened people’s eyes to not just how much they were spending on bad choices, but how long it took them to put these proposals together. She developed training programs, charts, graphics, etc.

It didn’t happen overnight, but things changed.

After she was done speaking to a standing room only crowd, a swarm of people like I’ve never seen before lined up to speak with her. Clearly, far too many people are still having these struggles. But I encourage everyone to be like Thomas Jefferson, or Michelle Martin, and trade in your complaints for action.

I’ll Note That In My Next Presentation

For me, the biggest bang for my buck was something Meg Winch said while giving her take on shortlist presentations. I’m going to try my best to describe her point.

Has anyone ever said, “I loved what that architect’s team said, they have great chemistry, and their approach was spot on…but I noticed that they were using notes during the presentation. We’ll have to go with someone else.”

Wow. That’s the kind of question that gets you thinking. Only an amateur would use notes during a presentation, right?! But it would sure be helpful. Maybe it is time to rethink allowing people to use notes during shortlist presentations.

Hiding In Plain Sight

The third takeaway was from Wayne O’Neill. His major point was that, especially in the construction industry, there is a lot of opportunity “hiding in plain sight.”

For example, the oil industry is being battered by low oil prices right now. That’s bad news if you are in the oil construction business. But, it is good news if you work in the chemical market. O’Neill says chemical-related construction in Texas is booming right now due to low oil prices.

He said our clients’ businesses are being disrupted on a regular basis these days. For example, corporate, healthcare, and university clients are partnering to build new campuses. This drives the need for mixed-use construction to support these projects.

Businesses like Uber have disrupted the transportation market. With the introduction of self-driving cars, that industry may be disrupted again. What does this mean for those who design or build parking structures?

It might be wise to look at the trends that may be disrupting your clients. Maybe they present big opportunities hiding in plain sight.

Second To Last Note

I was so honored and humbled by all the people who came up to me to thank me for our little Help Everybody Every Day community, take selfies with me, comment on my tweets, or even invite me to lunch.

In particular, it’s great to hear people who are using my tactics and experiencing some really amazing success. If you have any successes to report, please shoot me an email.

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