You Might Need a Marketing Consultant When…

I recently responded to a post on Help A Reporter Out*.  The blogger was seeking “best tips” from marketing experts for a series of posts she was creating for business people in a specific industry vertical.  Here is my response:

Get your value proposition right before you start marketing. In a study I conducted with more than 150 marketing and sales executives, a weak value proposition was selected as the top reason for ineffective branding. An effective value proposition focuses on broad position, specific positioning and value positioning. The goal is to address a need of the target market and differentiate your company from competitors.

What happened next was really fascinating.  She responded that she liked my tip, but that her readers included not just marketers and that these terms are “gobblygook” (yes, she used the word “gobblygook” – I think she meant gobbledygook).  She felt most of her readers would not understand what I meant by a value proposition or even positioning, and she asked me if I could provide examples and definitions.  I sent her my white paper on effective branding with a note about the relevant pages.  Her response was that she did not have time to “go through this”.

I’m relating this story not to criticize this blogger but to point out a problem we have as marketers.  We do not present ourselves well as professionals nor serve the business community when we try to simplify complex marketing ideas and processes so they can be DIYed by the “layman”.   Useful information about developing a value proposition cannot be reduced to a sound bite.  Most of us have studied marketing at the undergraduate and/or graduate levels, had continuing education in marketing subjects, and, most importantly, have decades of experience in applying the principles of marketing.  To assume all this knowledge can be put in a nutshell and used by someone who does not understand some basic terminology is incredibly unrealistic.

Try asking an accountant to provide brief descriptions of depreciation, amortization and goodwill so they can be applied by a businessperson.  The accountant might be able and willing to do it, but the usefulness of the information is debatable.  Or put another way: Use at your own risk and, by the way, the IRS is not very forgiving if you didn’t quite get the detail.

I would argue that the application of marketing concepts, such as positioning, is even trickier.  Positioning is very fluid and is impacted by a number of variables (the company’s capabilities, product/service category, target market, pricing, legal environment, competitive landscape, technological advancements, etc.)  There is much nuance involved, and an agency or consultant who understands the process and client’s business can help avoid wasted time and resources or even more catastrophic results.  They can also be an unbiased reality check on how the company perceives itself.

My purpose in this is not to pitch my services (but I’ll be happy to chat if you need help!).  But if you do not understand the basic concept of positioning, I urge you to contract with a marketing professional who can help you with the research and guide you through the process.  If you do nothing else, you need to get your positioning right because it is the foundation upon which all your branding and marketing is built.


Help a Reporter Out is a service where reporters, writers and bloggers post queries about stories they are working on so that sources can provide information.  Three times a day, HARO sends an email with the most recent queries broken down by category.  It is a great resource for getting press for yourself or for your clients.

© 2011-2018 Bill Fellows, Top-of-Mind Branding All Rights Reserved