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Should’ve, could’ve, would’ve Featured

9:47am EDT July 22, 2002

Creativity is divided into two parts. The first — CREATe — is to come up with new and innovative ways to do something.

The second and most difficult part of the word is IVITY. It’s taking action on what you’ve created. Nobody cares about a great idea unless you do something about it.

I liken it to when I visit the small town in which I grew up in Canada. I get into the car with my dad, and, inevitably, we stop at the same corner in town. There, he proudly points out two large buildings and proclaims, “I could have bought those properties in 1947 for $1,500.00.”

Not to be rude, dad, but who cares?

It’s the same when you see a product on the market and slap your forehead in admonishment saying to yourself, “I thought of that years ago. I can’t believe somebody is making money from that!”

Again, who cares?

I recently had one of those ‘I thought of that’ experiences. I have a literary agent who has been on me for two years to write a marketing book for small businesses. I have had every excuse in the world not to do it, and this week, my procrastination came back to haunt me. I purchased a marketing book, and there, in the first 50 pages, were the exact thoughts I have had — seemingly forever — on marketing.

Don’t get me wrong. The author didn’t plagiarize my words or my concepts; they are his own, and he has far more credibility than I. It was just one of those eye-opening experiences that sends a wake-up call to all of us at some time in our careers. I know what you’re thinking: Who cares?

The book? “The End of Marketing As We Know It,” by Sergio Zyman, former chief marketing officer, The Coca-Cola Co. It’s rare that I promote a book in my column, but I can’t give this one any higher accolades.

In the book, Zyman claims that “the job of marketing is to sell lots of stuff and to make lots of money. It is to get more people to buy more of your products, more often, at higher prices ... That’s what it’s about, what it has always been about, and what it will always be about.

“In fact, although some marketers will tell you it’s impossible, the real job of a marketer is to sell everything that a company can profitably make, to be the ultimate stewards of return on investment and assets employed.”

That’s exactly what I would have said ... but who cares?

Zyman continues, “One of the biggest reasons that [businesses] often lack the discipline that they need to achieve their desired results is that they do not do a good job of defining what those results should be ... Marketers focus too much on tasks and not enough on results ... a clear and objective result for the effort and money that gets allocated to marketing.”

This is why I always say a small business needs a good marketing plan. WHO CARES what I say?

Zyman discusses doing research to support your marketing efforts, focusing on results rather than on your market, and he stresses that we sometimes need to suck it up and admit, “‘It ain’t working’ and change our strategy mid-stream.”

Even more potent is his concept that you can expand your market by redefining it. He claims that “ ... any time someone starts understanding your product or service, it’s time to reinvent it!”

Does this sound familiar? I have been saying this for years. But I know, I know. Who cares?

Finally, “The End of Marketing As We Know It” scolds readers who think advertising and marketing are completely separate strategies. Zyman claims that advertising used to be one part of the marketing plan, but in today’s business dynamic, a savvy organization recognizes that it is so intertwined that it no longer has separate advertising and marketing departments or responsibilities.

This is exactly what I tell our clients. OK! OK! Say it with me. “Who cares?”

Things would be different, however, if I had followed through with my idea when I first had it. Indeed, I would have, could have, should have. But Zyman did.

Free by fax: “The 10 commandments of effective leadership in small business today.” Fax your letterhead with your name and the words “10 Commandments” to (412) 373-8773.

Jeff Tobe, CSP, is the Primary Colorer at Monroeville-based, Coloring Outside the Lines, which works with businesses on how to be more creative in their sales and marketing strategies. Reach his Web site at www.jefftobe.com or at (412) 373-6592.