The Problem with Marketing Today


Marketing is essential for a business to succeed

And, there’s a simple, age-old formula for marketing that goes like this…

Offer the Right Product to the Right People at the Right Price and the Right Time

It’s taught in business school as the 4 P’s: Product, Place, Price, Promotion.

It’s what I learned when I studied marketing in college and got my degree. It’s the strategy I used for years in my marketing career. It’s even the basis for the “system” I taught in my very first marketing talk back in the mid-1990’s, and the first information product I created in 2004: The 10stepmarketing System.

The 4 P’s are about STRATEGY.

Today, however, marketing has become all about TACTICS

Here are some examples of marketing tactics:

  • Building a blog
  • Building an email list
  • Publishing an ezine
  • Producing videos
  • Mastering social media
  • Offering teleseminars or webinars
  • Speaking
  • Writing a book
  • Personal branding
  • Creating information products, training programs, masterminds, and membership programs (some folks may not see these as marketing but they are, they’re all ways to package your services, and if your services don’t first fill a need or have a market, how you package them is a moot point)

These are all things you can do to market your services, BUT…

The problem is, if you haven’t FIRST satisfied the foundational 4 P’s none of this stuff matters… or works. And I believe this focus on tactics before strategy is the reason most service professionals are not successful in their businesses.

Unfortunately, too many people have bought into the idea that all they need to do is follow their passion, throw a couple of these marketing tactics into the mix and they can make millions. Because that’s what’s being taught by many people.

So business owners, and wanna-be business owners, are focusing on tactics when they haven’t taken the time to make sure they have a solid business foundation in place, first. Because quite frankly, the foundation stuff isn’t sexy, it’s not necessarily fast and easy, and therefore it’s not what’s being sold.

Problem is, tactics without strategy don’t work in most cases

But not unlike dieters who fail on diet after diet, far too often business owners jump from system to system trying to find the one that will work for them. When the truth is, what they really need to do is go back and fix their business first. Just as the dieter needs to go back and understand the real reasons they’re overeating or not exercising.

It wasn’t always this way… so what happened?

I believe we are in this situation because there are too many people who have been fortunate enough to experience the “perfect storm” when it comes to their own business (all the P’s have been in place, either by design or by luck) but they have placed the credit for their success on the marketing tactic(s) they used.

These people (most of whom do not have formal education or training in business or marketing) then go out and start teaching the marketing tactic(s) that worked for them as the “secret to success.” When in reality, the secret to their success was the fact that they had the right product, at the right time, at the right price, and they promoted it to the right people. The “promotion” (i.e. tactic) is just one piece of the puzzle, yet they’re selling it as the entire puzzle.

I don’t believe these people are purposely misleading others.

I do believe most people honestly believe it’s what’s responsible for their success. And, in an industry that promotes information marketing as the holy grail of passive income, they’ve been taught to package, sell and teach what they know.

My perspective

I’ve created 8 businesses. I’m formally trained in business, marketing, and advertising (and I have a college degree in it) and I’ve been doing it professionally for 27 years (13 years working for others, 14 years on my own). Some of my businesses were very successful, others failed miserably. They failed because at their core, they didn’t fulfill a need or desire that people were willing to pay for. I realized this in hindsight, as we most often do. Like many other people, I got too caught up in the follow your passion advice and forgot to apply the basics.

It’s time to clarify what marketing can actually do

Marketing cannot solve a business problem. Marketing can only solve an awareness problem.
The real “secret to success” is to make sure you have the business basics checked off BEFORE you apply ANY marketing.


About Debbie

Debbie worked in marketing for 32 years and ran a successful coaching and consulting business for 19. She now teaches marketing and helps people find greater happiness and success by learning how to Follow Inspiration.

2 comments on “The Problem with Marketing Today

  1. Couldn’t agree more Debbie … love the analogy with “dieter mindset.” I’ve learned never to make assumptions about what people want, need, or what price they are willing to pay for it. I learn so much more about my ideal client by getting out there and talking to them. Not sure many people appreciate the importance of this groundwork. Perhaps sitting behind the computer is too easy.

  2. Bonnie, sitting behind a computer IS easier, and safer! It can be scary to put yourself and your business out there, but you are so right… getting out there and talking with people is the best way to understand your market and how you can best serve. You can’t create a successful business in a vacuum.

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