The Industry Experience Myth

“But do you have any experience in my particular industry?”

experience-leadersWe may not.

And that’s the good news.

Because we don’t have any experience in your industry — but have a whole lot of experience marketing everything from staffing services to air freight and chocolate candy – we are the most qualified to help you.

Anybody who sells marketing services – whether they are marketing resource companies like us or ad agencies or consultants or whatever else – has heard the specific experience question. There is the feeling among clients that specific experience equals greater success. The fact is, it ain’t necessarily so.

Here’s why.

The “no experience” card is repeatedly played by well-meaning people. The thinking goes that specific industry experience – say, “insurance,” or “quarter turn ball valves” – is the price of admission to be considered for a project or account. The opposite is often true.

The basics of marketing are the same regardless of your business. We know, your business is different. But the dirty little secret is that the company exporting banana pudding to Luxemburg has the same marketing needs as the outfit with the killer app that keeps track of your Schnauzer. The products are different, but the goals will be remarkably similar and the basic techniques to reach the goals will look familiar.

Look for new, fresh, innovative ideas based on sound marketing principles. Don’t shut out enlightened experience and thinking just because the nice people across the table didn’t get their feet wet on your factory floor.


Consultant or resource: which is which?

Elzy Wright is famous for saying that “a Consultant (or expert) is anybody with a briefcase who is more than 50 miles from home.”

Funny. And sometimes true. We’ve certainly serve as consultants to some of our clients; and, yes, some of those clients are more than 50 miles from Atlanta. And to be perfectly honest, we both own briefcases, although one looks amazingly like a backpack.

We have nothing but respect for consultants, no matter their field of expertise. People who know what they’re talking about can be an invaluable part of a company’s growth.

But there is another category of expert, and knowing the difference between the two can be a big step toward company growth and your profitability. We’re talking about the “resource.” Put bluntly, sometimes you don’t need to be told what to do; you already know that. What you need is somebody to do it, somebody to execute programs to meet specific goals. That’s what a resource is for.

A client of ours didn’t need to be told he needed a company-wide meeting for all employees. What he needed was for someone to plan and execute the event.

A client with a full range of marketing skills on hand needed a presentation to an important constituency. What should she say? Who would write it? Enter the marketing resource.

A highly experienced marketing resource (yes, like a highly experienced consultant,) can end up saving money, loads of time, and you’ll end up with a better product. The best way to pick a resource is to look for someone who has boots-on-the-ground experience in the area where you need help.

Don’t be put off by the “but these people worked only for big companies” prejudice. That means they have the experience and the knowledge.

Sometimes you’ll need the wise counsel of consultants; sometimes you’ll need the hands-on skills of a marketing resource. And you’ll benefit from knowing the difference.