Can you be too good at marketing?

Do you aspire to drive an Aston Martin or Rolls-Royce, stay in five-star hotels, have the largest TV possible? If you’re like me you probably said ‘yes’ to all of these.

We all want the very best. But this is tempered by a sense of realism. I can’t afford a fast car, I’m happy with a family-run bed and breakfast on holiday, and I can live with a more subtle form of home entertainment.

So I was slightly surprised by a conversation at work this week, when I was told that my team is too good for what the business could afford. We have been creating more sales leads than the sales team can cope with; we have been setting a standard that many of our global colleagues cannot keep up with; and, fundamentally, we are pricing ourselves out of                                    the business.

This boils down to me not getting a pay rise this year, despite exceeding all my objectives. The implication is that the business could cope with slightly fewer leads, a lesser presence in the market and, one assumes, a slightly less expensive marketing director.

On the face of it, this is incredible – don’t we all get out of bed in the morning wanting to do better than we did the day before? Yet here there is an unexpected counterbalance of affordability. However, common sense suggests that if you are winning a race, you don’t take your foot off the gas to let the others catch up, on the basis that you’re expending more energy than is necessary to finish the race in the position you expected? In horseracing, this is prohibited – if your horse is in a position to win, you cannot pull it back.

While I am used to salesmen ‘sand bagging’ leads to the next period once they have reached their target, and finance directors tucking money away for a rainy day, should marketers lower their standards to the lowest common denominator – holding back until the rest of the business catches up? It’s a sad conclusion if true.

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