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The Benefits of Master Marketing
by Jay Conrad Levinson






If you had all the money that was wasted in marketing each year, you'd be richer than Bill Gates and Warren Buffet combined. You'd have an endless supply of income on a regular basis. And your earnings would increase each year because more money is wasted than invested in marketing each year.

A depressing amount of money that is invested should be saved or given to charity because it has no chance of paying off. The reason it is being tossed to the winds is because the people in charge of investing it have no clear perspective of what marketing really can and can't do.

They know the words, but not the music. They have a superficial knowledge of the process of marketing, but lack the enlightenment they really need.

So they spend their marketing funds foolishly, frittering it away on false expectations. In many cases, they're doomed before they even begin because they don't start out in the right direction, they're not armed with the right ammunition, and they have no plan of attack. The money they waste comes directly from their profits. They may bring in money from work that they do remarkably well, but because they don't do their marketing well, that work was in vain.

One of the secrets of success in business is to provide quality in what you offer. Another is to realize that excellence isn't as much a goal as a process. Still another secret is to market with the aggressiveness and acumen of the guerrilla. Most businesses -- start-ups and tiny companies to established giant corporations -- do a bang-up job with the first secret, even the second, then fall on their faces with the third.

That is why this book exists.

I wrote it to provide insights most business owners lack. I wrote it to fill in the gaps in many business owners' knowledge of marketing. I wrote it to increase your profitability because every day I witness embarrassingly bad marketing in newspapers, magazines, and my mailbox, on radio, television, and the Internet, on signs, billboards, and my telephone. And I know how much money is being wasted in the pursuit of the impossible by the unenlightened.

Guerrillas know it is advantageous to have foresight and insight, for both are valuable, though they are not the same. An old Chinese proverb reminds us, "If you have foresight, you're blessed, but if you have insight, you're a thousand times blessed."

This is a book of marketing insights. You wouldn't attempt to climb a mountain without insights into climbing. You'd never jump into the ocean unless you had already learned how to swim. A marketing strategy isn't something you make up as you go along -- it's something you must have at the outset, or dire circumstances will result. And yet, many people in charge of marketing are totally clueless when they begin. They jump in without knowing what they're doing.

When you have honest insights into marketing, you're ready to begin marketing. Until then, hold back on it or expect the worst. When you've finished reading this book, you'll have the insights. You'll know how to climb high. You'll know how to swim in seas brimming with sharks. And your profits will reflect your clarity.

The better you understand marketing and are able to actually master marketing, the higher your profits will be. That's the insight into profits that you must possess. The more you know what marketing can and cannot do for you, the lovelier the number on your bottom fine. That's the most obvious benefit of mastering marketing.

Enjoying your work and feeling confident, in control, on top of everything, living a life relatively free of stress, especially in the marketing arena -- these are the less obvious, yet no less important, benefits of mastering the guerrilla form of marketing.

If you know all there is to know about planning and producing a brochure, but don't know how to disseminate it or connect it with other elements of your marketing program -- or dare to think you can market your business with that brochure and nothing else -- your situation is woeful indeed. And your business will lose more than it will gain from that brochure. As guerrillas know, a job that is done 99 percent satisfactorily is a job done poorly -- and marketing is just too expensive to do poorly. Guerrillas know well the difference between doing a project right the first time and having to redo it.

Most marketing these days is being done poorly. It looks a whole lot better than it produces. It is oriented to awards more than sales, to tradition more than reality, to the advertiser's ego more than the prospect's ego. It strives for hipness over aptness and aims primarily for laughs, razzle-dazzle, and cleverness rather than for profits ... and it hits the bull's-eye for laughs, razzle-dazzle, and cleverness while missing entirely the target for profits.

Very often marketing campaigns are aimed directly at the profit bull's-eye, but they stop short of the target. A terrific mailing without a follow-up stops short. A telemarketing campaign without a stage-setting ad campaign or mailing stops short. An ad that does not fit cohesively with other marketing stops short. And any marketing that commences without a plan of attack stops short before it even has a chance to establish momentum.

Television advertising provides us with some of the most brilliant, exciting, stimulating, and fascinating mini-films we've ever seen. As such, they're enthralling to watch. But as commercials, which is what they are supposed to be, they are positively dismal, even appalling. They focus on almost everything except the product. In fact, many times, it's not even mentioned till the very end. This lack of insight is to be blamed on witless people who worship at the shrines of entertainment, special effects, humor, and celebrity instead of those who concentrate on profits, sales, motivation, and relationships.

When people see your marketing, they're supposed to say, "Wow! I want that product!" They're not supposed to say, "Wow! What a great film!"

An instructor at the Harvard Business School says that there have been four ages of global economic activity. He said that the first age was agricultural, the second was industrial, the third was information, and the fourth, which we've just entered, is the age of creativity. It is? Where can I find proof? Not in marketing, that's for sure. Guerrillas define creativity in marketing as something that increases profits. There is a notable lack of creativity by that definition in most marketing campaigns.

Millions -- no, make that billions -- of dollars each year are wasted by being invested in marketing that makes the writer, art director, and producer feel good, while the accountant reaches into his drawer for another hit of Turns.

These days, television viewers, after watching a commercial, often ask:

  • "Whose commercial is this? I just can't tell."
  • "That sure was a great commercial! Who was it for?"
  • "Boy! Dennis Rodman is terrific! What was he plugging in that spot?"
  • "Fabulous commercial! Was that for Nike, Bud, Pepsi, or Guess jeans?"
  • "Did you catch the name of that advertiser? I sneezed and missed it."
When I was toiling in advertising agencies, which I did for a dozen years, I was taught that if you have 30 seconds to sell a product, you should use all 30. These days, the lesson seems to be that if you have 30 seconds to sell a product, use the last three seconds to sell it and the first 27 to be sparkling and attention-getting.

Admakers seem to do all in their power to call attention to their ad when they should be calling attention to their product or service. The idea is to forget the marketing and make the product or service interesting. If you don't do that, you lack the insight that true creativity in marketing generates profits.

Web sites are guilty of the same crime. Many are creative in an artistic sense, yet devoid of creativity in the profitability sense. Same for many magazine ads and radio commercials. Same for a lot of direct mail. Why do you suppose people call it "junk mail"?

Guerrillas let prospects know right off the bat who is doing the marketing. They are not self-conscious that it is marketing and do not try to disguise marketing as pseudo-entertainment. They don't kid themselves by thinking, "if I'm clever enough, people will never guess that this is a commercial." They are not disgusted by the idea of showing their name onscreen throughout the commercial or using their name in a headline. They do not try to fool the public with their shifty moves and special effects. They are not adverse to repeating their main message once or twice. They are not embarrassed to present the benefits that their product offers. And they realize that marketing can do a whole lot more than generate awareness.

To help people find their way through the maze of superinformation, guerrilla creativity is more necessary than ever. It's necessary to help prospects know who you are, how your offering will make their lives better, why they should buy what you offer immediately. It is crucial to create a desire to buy what you're selling, to break through the clutter of inane marketing.

In a sense, this makes marketing a more fertile ground for guerrillas than at any other time in history. The competition is looking the other way -- at awards judges, at their peers, at their own artistic souls. They are not looking directly into the eyes, hearts, and minds of their prospects. If you do, you'll be noticed. Even better, you'll be profitable.

The trend in current marketing? More of the same. That means more misguided, ill-advised, poorly planned, unrealistic, self-congratulating, silly, beside-the-point propaganda that generates profits for advertising agencies and marketing consultants, but not for the people signing the checks that pay for this kind of marketing. It is the result of lacking insight at the outset. And that's like diving into a swimming pool that has no water.

Guerrilla marketing has developed and flourished as a result. Where the first guerrilla marketing books were written for small businesses with limited capital, they are now embraced by large multinational corporations that are sick and tired of tossing money away.

Marketing of the guerrilla variety differs from marketing of the traditional variety in fifteen crucial ways. Each way seems to favor small business. These are fifteen hallmarks of guerrilla marketing.

  1. It requires that you invest time, energy, and imagination in the marketing process rather than investing only money.
  2. It is based on psychology -- laws of human behavior -- more than on guesswork and judgment.
  3. It uses profits as the only yardstick for measuring its performance.
  4. It is geared to small business and cognizant that many large businesses are only big small businesses.
  5. It encourages marketers to use the gifts bestowed by today's simple-to-use technology and advises anyone with technophobia to see a technoshrink.
  6. It removes the mystique from marketing and enables practitioners to gain insight into the entire marketing process rather than being intimidated by it.
  7. It changes the focus of marketing from competition to cooperation, asking guerrillas to see who they can help and who can help them instead of who they can obliterate. The driving force: the good of the customer.
  8. It suggests that marketers aim for relationships rather than single sales, keeping score by the number of relationships more than by sales tallies.
  9. It suggests that advertising alone does not work, direct mail alone does not work, public relations alone does not work, and a Web site alone doesn't work -- that only marketing combinations, such as advertising, direct mail, public relations, and a Web site, work.
  10. It counsels guerrillas to direct their gaze not at diversification and expansion as much as at focusing and intensifying their niche. When companies lose focus, they are in for grim times ahead.
  11. It suggests that guerrillas grow their businesses geometrically with fervent follow-up and reliance upon the enormous referral power of customers, rather than by growing linearly by constantly adding new customers. Guerrillas aim first and foremost not at obtaining new customers but at nurturing and following up existing customers, as it costs one-sixth as much to sell something to an existing customer than to sell the same thing to a new customer.
  12. It is oriented to giving as much taking, providing free information, tips, gifts, and consulting to prospects and customers. Guerrillas make generosity part of their overall marketing plan and continually think of things they can give to rather than take from people. This mindset opens wide the conduits through which profits flow.
  13. It is concerned primarily not with the large but with the small -- single individuals, small businesses, and minor details. Guerrillas achieve more pinpoint accuracy than traditional marketers, whose primary concern is groups -- who aim for the target more than the bull's-eye.
  14. It is completely planned and always intentional. Nothing occurs due to happenstance or accident; guerrillas know that everything they do and say is marketing, so all of it is on purpose.
  15. It provides one hundred weapons for guerrillas to use when marketing, fifty of those weapons being free. With so many free weapons, guerrillas utilize as many as they can.
Most important, trends in current marketing require guerrillas to succeed in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Marketing of the guerrilla variety allows guerrillas to feel the sensation of being in complete control of marketing rather than the other way around. With these insights, guerrillas do not waste money and are not forced to downsize or enter the bankruptcy courts.

In these pages, you are provided with the insights to actually master not only marketing itself, but guerrilla marketing as well. That's the kind that is helping small -- and enormous -- businesses in every comer of the earth.

Is it a coincidence that Microsoft is an enormously profitable company while engaging in extremely insightful marketing? I don't think so. It's because Microsoft worked hard to get where it is and doesn't want to lose its hard-earned money on marketing that fires blanks. Neither do I. Neither do you. Neither does any self-respecting guerrilla.

Copyright © 1999 Jay Conrad Levinson

The above is an excerpt from the book:
Mastering Guerrilla Marketing: 100 Profit-Producing Insights That You Can Take to the Bank
by Jay Conrad Levinson

Published by Houghton Mifflin;
0395908752; $14.00US;

"No one knows how to use the weapons of the trade better than industry expert Jay Levinson," said Entrepreneur magazine. Mastering Guerrilla Marketing is the book of a lifetime from the man whose take-no-prisoners approach has revolutionized small-business marketing strategies. In the most comprehensive guerilla guide yet, Levinson offers money-making insights culled from more than twenty years of research and expertise, including:

  • how to get free media coverage
  • the benefits of fusion marketing
  • strategies for creating a unique direct-response campaign
  • why online marketing means more than having a Web site
Mastering Guerrilla Marketing will become the reference for small-business owners, managers, and home-based businesses alike.

Jay Conrad Levinson, president of Guerilla Marketing International, lectures around the world on guerilla business techniques for universities, professional organizations, and companies such as IBM, AT&T, and Adobe. He also sat on the small-business boards of 3Com and Microsoft. He is the author or coauthor of twelve books in the Guerilla Marketing series and is an occasional columnist for Entrepreneur and the San Francisco Examiner.

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