Mark Stevens, CEO of MSCO Inc., specializes in helping companies realize what they are doing wrong when it comes to marketing. Stevens is a best-selling author, having written 25 business books, as well as the force behind the blog Unconventional Thinking.
The book that has caused the most buzz before people even read page one is "Your Marketing Sucks." Stevens spoke to the paper recently about marketing and the upcoming Brooklyn Business Expo, where he will be giving a presentation.
Q: Your Marketing Sucks - that's an interesting title for a book. So what makes marketing, well, not suck?
Stevens: Marketing sucks often because it’s designed to be structured around achieving an aesthetic element, it's all around "creativity" but if it doesn’t return revenue, it is not worth it. If you spend $10,000 you should get back at bare minimum $10,001. But the focus on generating capital is often overlooked for a beautiful website or advertisement.
Marketing that doesn’t suck should be about the revenue, not about how beautiful the advertisement is. Test and measure the response rates so you know where to allocate your money. Invest at first in a small way, so that you can invest in the best way.
Creativity is not as important as revenue. For example, Walmart’s advertising is not creative and they don't want it to be creative, they want to hammer home a message, which was that it is the low price leader.
Q: Do you believe that brainstorming is obsolete in the marketing department?
Stevens: I believe that what you have to do is take the time to "dream." People that want to work with us at MSCO, I tell them to spend at least an hour dreaming, thinking of strategies that don’t come to the tip of your tongue, because the best strategies aren’t written in a book.
It's easy to revert to common place, but innovation - thinking with a blank page - is what we do. Even on my blog, I’m trying to tell you that conventional wisdom isn’t really wisdom anymore, it's really convention. Managing by consensus is ridiculous. They go in and say this is what we are going to do, but it's better not just agreeing all the time. But people just accept convention, and convention equals failure.
Q: What would you say is the most effective marketing strategy?
Stevens: Really there’s no such thing - any marketing strategy can be successful, it depends on how you use it. The key to success, why my book became a global bestseller, you have to integrate all strategies: public relations, internet marketing, events, all of them have to reinforce the other. It can’t be equal to its parts, it should be greater.
When elements integrate, you get an exponent without which nothing will work. If you want to get serious about marketing then get serious about marketing, if not you’re business is not going to grow. Market consistently.
Q: Do you believe that your presentation at the expo will help the companies in attendance, or is this one of your own marketing strategies?
Stevens: I think it’ll be very helpful. One thing I love to do is teach other businesses how to work, I enjoy it. I’m an entrepreneur, I have been since I was 15 years old. I’m not doing it for the book and the company, I’m doing it because I like to talk to these people and help them grow.
I believe that small business is the engine of America, and that it is under attack by a government that doesn’t respect business. I am an advocate for small business, and I believe they’re under attack and yet we employ most of the people in this country.
The Brooklyn Business Expo will be held on April 7 at Steiner Studios in the Brooklyn Navy Yard from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information visit their website.