A Successful Marketing Journey Starts with an Open Mind

By Thursday October 7th, 2021

Being open-minded and forward-looking are key to launching a successful marketing journey with growth-oriented outcomes.

In my role as a growth consultant for small businesses, I am approached weekly by prospects who are requesting Brolik’s help and guidance, while at the same time, they tell me specifically what they think they want or need.

When they fill out our contact form, they’re clear about their problem. They might say that their website isn’t delivering enough high-quality leads, or that they are interested in a tactical solution to an SEO challenge, like link building.

But usually, after a meeting or two, it’s clear to me that the conversation isn’t being driven by a long-term plan.

I like to spend time learning about the long-term goals of a potential client, because it invariably leads to a clearer sense of how we can help. When we get into the details, I hear that the long-term strategy of the business has very little to do with website changes or link building. Instead, I hear about a pivot, a new customer segment that’s growing fast, a strategic partnership in the works, a new COO that’s driving the company forward.

Brolik’s team is made up of marketing experts. The easy path would be to say “yes, we can,” or pitch a straightforward tactical service on the first call. But our most successful client relationships — the ones that stay with us the longest, celebrate the most growth, inspire our team, and, to put it more simply, just seem to be running on all cylinders — involve a deeper look at the longer term business strategy.

These clients are willing to entertain conversations about product market fit, pricing, brand messaging, and their business model, because they value our advice, even if they don’t like what they hear, initially.

The takeaway for me? The clients who succeed are willing to be open-minded about the path in front of them. Even if they don’t realize it immediately, they’re receptive to a strategic expert who can guide them through the next three to five years of the company’s total growth, not just fix their website or their SEO ranking. They want to dive deep to identify the opportunities ahead. So if the company has a vision for the next few years, I want to know what it is on day one of the relationship.

“If the company has a vision for the next few years, I want to know what it is on day one of the relationship.”

Of course, it’s not a bad thing to focus on the vehicle to getting what you want. Decisiveness is a quality of great leadership. But in my experience, having too much rigidity around those initial assumptions may lead you down the wrong path. Being authoritative and plain wrong at the same time isn’t the best way to start a new marketing engagement.

We recommend putting aside the vehicle and realigning around the destination: the long-term goals that you want to achieve. “Who we are and where we should be,” before “what we want done and how we want to do it.”

One reason for this is that the vehicle, the prescriptive approach to solving a problem, is often riddled with fallacies. If a business owner isn’t willing to admit this possibility, we’re probably not going to get far together.

For as much success as we’ve had as an agency, I’ve spent a lot of time with prospects or clients that just don’t work out. Typically, what I’ve seen is that these companies share common challenges:

  • Lack of perspective — The business owner undervalues their brand and products, or thinks more highly of them than the market has shown.
  • Confirmation bias — The instinct to elevate certain ideas, and/or completely ignore others, only paying attention to data that confirms their assumptions or agenda (great list of data collection fallacies here).
  • Lack of good advisors — The technology behind great digital marketing changes rapidly, and a leadership team might not have access to someone who understands the complexity.
  • Inability to define the real problem, or misdiagnosing it Like the SEO example earlier, it’s easy to correlate a lack of traffic to a simple technical solution, but other unforeseen factors may have an even greater negative influence.

In initial conversations with a new client, I always listen to initial ideas and assumptions. After all, business leaders are successful because of their vision. I’m a business owner myself, and I know how difficult it can be to hold back my opinions on how something should be handled.

But too often, I hear about directions for growth that I know are based on fallacies or bias, particularly in how they relate to marketing. Is squeezing an extra five percent performance out of paid search the best way to grow, or is your company just focused on the traction you’ve seen in that channel before?

One of my favorite parts of the job is working through tough conversations to help leaders open their minds to achieve what they want, with an approach they did not expect.

The question to ask yourself is which you value more: the outcome, or the path to get there? Brolik is focused on the outcomes, making sure you achieve your long-term goals.


For a more granular look at how Brolik connects marketing tactics to long-term strategy, we recommend checking out our April post, “Why Marketing Goals Must Be Tethered To Strategic Planning Objectives.”

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About the Author

Jason is co-founder and CEO of Brolik, a digital agency in Philadelphia. As an entrepreneur, Jason is passionate about helping other business owners navigate the complicated journey of owning a business and developing marketing strategies to grow their brand.
Follow @jaybrew on Twitter or connect with Jason on LinkedIn or Google+