Most advertising agencies hate Mark Stevens for his crusade against frivolous, costly and fruitless advertising campaigns. Ironically, though, Stevens doesn't hate all ad agencies--just those whose sole purpose is to produce beautifully creative ads worthy of Clio awards, rather than to generate more sales for their clients.
"Sam Walton took a look at his options and said 'the heck with the artsy stuff. Give me cheap ads that sell by the truckload'. Today Wal-Mart is the most successful company in the world," declares Stevens. "Further, if advertising agencies truly believe that the glitzy, creative, Clio award-winning ads work--that is, generate more sales--then why don't they advertise for themselves?"
As CEO of MSCO, a global marketing advisory, Stevens encourages corporate managers to discard conventional wisdom and engage in zero-based marketing. That is, allocate marketing dollars based on clearly defined objectives and goals, not on last year's marketing budget or a percentage of sales.
"I am not against advertising. What I am suggesting is a little reverse engineering, a measurable link between the ad spend and the results it generates," Stevens maintains.
Stevens suggests bringing together senior management, marketing executives and the ad agency to see if all parties truly understand the company's business strategy. Probe deeper to determine how each proposes to bring that strategy to life through advertising. Finally, insist on proof of a direct correlation between the money spent on advertising and the incremental revenues that are the only legitimate dividend those ad dollars should yield.
Even if managers forego zero-based marketing, in the era of Sarbanes Oxley, accountability and proven ROI is no longer an option, it's a demand! Marketing budgets for some companies can go into the billions--a significant corporate investment that affects brand, sales and reputation, with consequences for all company stakeholders. Hence, an assessment of "best practices" must be conducted to curtail any potential liability for ineffective systems.
"Your Marketing Sucks!" has recently been re-released in paperback and the Asian edition is currently in publication. For more information on zero-based marketing or MSCO's Mark Stevens, call Carol Stevens, 914-251-1500, ext. 12 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Mark Stevens
As CEO, MSCO, Inc., a global marketing firm specializing in strategy and integrated marketing solutions to "grow" businesses, Mark Stevens is a trusted advisor to CEOs of privately-owned and public companies of all sizes and industries. He is the author of five business books, including BusinessWeek bestseller, "Your Marketing Sucks!" Stevens is a frequent guest lecturer and seminar host for major corporations, trade associations and professional practices, such as Nike and Chevron/Texaco. He is often cited in national print media, including the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Chief Executive Magazine, as an expert source on marketing, advertising, and business strategy; and he has been interviewed for major broadcast shows including The Today Show, NPR's All Things Considered and the CBS Evening News.