Slightly Mad Thoughts

"Houston, we have a problem"

Does it seem like every company meeting ends up in a gripe session about marketing?  Your staff get positively aggressive, asking for all manner of things.  Change the logo!  Change the website!  Do a mailing!

The wasted money

Wasted time

Lack of direction

So many unknowns…


So you adjourn the meeting and skulk off to your office to do some searches that go nowhere, or worse you totally avoid the problem by just reading your emails until they all leave you along.

They don’t understand, it’s so expensive… and you don’t even know where that money is going.  It’s not like you buy a new piece of equipment and instantly have 30% more capacity with so much more product going out the door.  Now THAT’S ROI you can get your arms around!  But marketing?  It’s like a magical mystery tour every time you interview an agency. And they ALWAYS seem to want to toss out your logo… why?!  Your entire staff mutiny every time you ask that question. They know why – it’s dated.  The logo is dated.  The messaging is dated. And don’t even start me on that website. There, I said it.

The first step to healing is admitting you have a problem.

So what now?  Admitting that you do have a brand problem and maybe you do need to “tweak” that logo – and get into the (ahem) 20th century (let’s not overshoot, OK?) is the first step.  The second step is choosing a partner who really GETS YOU!

It can’t be someone whose first question is, “What’s your media budget?”  Media budget? These guys don’t understand.

Working with an agency is supposed to be exhilarating, and it certainly shouldn’t be painful. If the idea of choosing a marketing partner fills you with dread, you’re doing it all wrong.

Here are a few of the things you may be doing all wrong – and what you need to do right!

  1. You don’t (really) plan to spend any money. This is a problem we see every day.  Believe it or not, small- to medium- sized businesses (let’s say $10m – $30m) try not to spend on marketing. They suffer for it, but will never admit it.  What should your size firm spend on branding and advertising? Well, it does depend on the industry, the marketplace and the competition, but a good rule of thumb is that it should be between 5% and 10% of revenue. If you are not spending at least 5%, you can be SURE you are leaving sales on the table.
  2. You don’t (really) understand the power your brand can have in the marketplace. Here is where you need to get educated.  As Philip Kotler (Professor of International Marketing at the Northwestern University Kellogg Graduate School of Management in Chicago) so artfully and succinctly said, “If you are not a brand you are a commodity. Then price is everything and the low cost producer is the only winner.” But by winner we don’t mean driving a Jag and building a new facility.  The low cost producer is NEVER the real winner – why?  They are not ABLE to charge enough – and will forever be running scared.  If you are not able to demonstrate your brand’s voice, as Professor Kotler says, consumers will gravitate to the guy who does, or if none exists – the cheapest option.I myself would prefer to be a REASONABLY-priced producer who is able to have a little breathing room, wouldn’t you?
  3. You don’t (really) trust the agencies that you’ve interviewed. Trust is important. Trust in the people you will be spending A LOT of time with in the next few months, trust in the process, and trust that all that time, effort and money will yield results.  

We know it’s so much easier not to act.  But as John F. Kennedy so brilliantly put it “There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.”

OK, so here’s our pitch…

When you work with Slightly Mad, you will feel like you can trust us. And you can.  How can you be sure?  Because we don’t take one dollar from you until we know each other really well.  This doesn’t (necessarily) mean we hang out drinking martinis together – it means we take you through some of our goal-setting exercises.  Yup – totally on our dime.  We won’t ask you your media budget, we won’t push you to change your logo, we will sit down with you and talk about your business strategy.

After that, there will be plenty of time to get into the branding stuff on a timeline, budget and scope that you’re comfortable with. If nothing else, you will learn a lot from us and make some new friends.