As a marketing coach, I've worked with hundreds of businesses over the years, from technology to therapeutic touch. There were the businesses that were just starting out, bright-eyed, full of start-up dreams and enthusiasm. There were those well-established businesses, hoping to hone their marketing mix. There were businesses in expansion, or downsizing, those for sale, or those in the throes of dissolution. Everyone I worked with wanted the best--for themselves, their companies, and their customers. They just weren't sure how to make that happen.
The more marketing I did, the more I uncovered distinctions between various marketing "styles." Like Eskimos who differentiate between qualities of snow, I began seeing patterns in how businesses and individuals approach the marketing function.

What follows is the first of the seven archetypes, "Sally Spaghetti." The act of recognizing archetypical qualities is the first step in shifting to a more powerful and productive way of handling marketing--whatever phase you and your business are in.

Sally Spaghetti. Helen, a web designer, arrived at my office with her arms full. Spreading out portfolios and other materials, she declared, "Nothing I'm doing seems to bring in customers. What's wrong with my marketing?" In business for two years, Helen had spent thousands of dollars on magazine advertising, radio spots, association memberships, and other marketing vehicles. When I asked Helen how she chose the various vehicles, she said, "When I opened my business, a number of vendors called me with some great-sounding deals. I thought some of those deals were too good to pass up. I didn't think I had much to lose, so I tried them, It seemed like the right thing to do at the time. I know I didn't get the results I wanted, and I remember how disappointed I felt. I'm still not really sure what I did wrong, was it timing, the wrong publication, a bad ad, or something else. I guess I'm really not sure what to do differently the next time around. I'm also not sure there's going to be a next time around since by now, I've spent so much of my budget. I know I sure can't afford more marketing mistakes."

Helen's situation is what I call the "Sally Spaghetti" syndrome. Helen made an assumption that marketing was about experimenting with different marketing vehicles. For her, this meant trying whatever came along and sounded like a good deal. Helen made the assumption that she couldn't afford a professional marketer at the beginning stage of her business. She decided that marketing was something she would do on her own, and that this would be good enough.

As a new business owner, Helen heard from many marketing vendors. She was aware that the vendors who approached her seemed extremely excited about their product, service, or idea. Helen noticed that after she spoke with them, her body often felt charged by those interactions. Helen had let herself get "hooked" by vendors' adrenaline, Every time Helen bought a vendor's product, she would think, "This is the one that will finally bring customers to my door." Often, the marketing vehicles Helen purchased were ads in new-to-market magazines, "one of a kind" radio spots, trade show booths at new expos. Even though Helen was not gullible in other parts of her life, she would let herself be convinced to make a buying decision, before others took the opportunity from her, before the price went up, before the deadline closed. In one case, Helen hoped to hedge her bets, by signing up for a group package with like businesses in her field. Together, they all purchased advertising time on a well-known celebrity's television show. Given the celebrity, results seemed guaranteed. Helen drew the false conclusion that if similar businesses were buying in, it was the right thing to do. When the spot aired, it was too short, and once more, Helen was disappointed.

Marketing Cure. Helen's marketing strategy was the equivalent of throwing cooked spaghetti against a wall, and if it stuck, the spaghetti was done. This haphazard approach ultimately, cost Helen more than time, money, and lost business, it also made her wary of the marketing process. Helen believed she was being proactive about marketing; in fact, her marketing approach got her business into trouble.

Helen needs to learn that effective marketing is both an art and science. Professional marketers typically go through rigorous academic training to learn marketing, from theory to practicum and case studies. Once a marketer has been in business for some years, they gain the seasoning that comes with real world experience. While marketers may differ in their marketing recommendations, certain marketing beliefs are core and foundational. Most marketing professionals treat every business as unique, even if a business looks similar on the surface to others. Marketing strategy that works for one company seldom works for other companies, even those in the same industry, A difference in just one aspect of a business may shift the entire marketing mix. The name of the business, its size, location, product distinctions, and ideal customer are all factors that impact the marketing plan.

Helen also needs to shift her approach from looking at how other businesses are doing marketing to reflecting on her own business values and goals. Many businesspeople unwittingly have an externally driven approach to their marketing. By "going within," and focusing more clearly on herself and her business, Helen can begin a process I call "marketing from the inside out." This internally driven process is based on the premise that each business and individual has something special to bring to the world. Meditation, contemplation, and other tools designed to bring forward inner guidance can support the marketing process on a deep level.

Helen's business will prosper from having a unique, positive brand identity. She has learned that one-shot advertising rarely works, and that following those who know less than she does about marketing is not a good idea.

Passion Matters. The good news is that the seven archetypes are all passionate about their business. Often, these individuals want to make a difference, to provide value, to change lives. While all seven archetypes (see the book "Branding and Marketing Mastery" for full descriptions) are enthusiastic about the product or service they are offering, they also reflect a certain business inexperience, lack of focus, distractibility, marketing gaps, fear, stubbornness and/or adrenaline orientation. In some cases, functioning as a lone ranger provides control but keeps out both good and bad influences. Believing that only they know how to run their business and wanting to do things perfectly creates too tight a corner from which to operate from.

"SweetSpot" Marketing(tm). I call the process of determining the vortex point where who you are, what your business offers, and what your buyer wants your marketing "sweet spot." SweetSpot Marketing(tm) has various stages, depending on how long your business has been in existence, what your product or service is, how developed the business is, and what level of success you are seeking.
The earliest stage might involve preliminary market research. With SweetSpot Marketing(tm), this happens on four levels: mental, emotional, physical and, if appropriate, spiritual. During this stage, we might create a name for your business, product or idea that taps into your market's true desires.
A second stage might involve creating or reviewing existing promotional materials. This stage can evolve into branding or niche marketing, to give your business what it needs to stand out in the marketplace. For structured support and accountability, it may be worthwhile to develop a marketing budget and marketing plan.
The third stage invves moving your marketing, newly aligned with who you are and who your prospective customer is, into action.
Stage four involves making needed tweaks and shifts to integrate and absorb the effects of business growth.
Partnering For Success
A client told me that hiring a marketing coach eliminated her years of "wondering and wandering." Because you are, by nature, so close to your product, it can be challenging to see your business in perspective, and make consistent, wise, marketing decisions. Savvy marketing coaching can accelerate your business growth, save money, increase profits and prevent costly mistakes. Your business is a great classroom -- maximize your learning opportunities and you'll move forward with greater success.

Author's Bio: 

Miriam Reiss, Master Marketing Coach, is co-author of, "A Guide to Getting It: Branding and Marketing Mastery." Her work has been featured in publications ranging from the Seattle Times to Good Housekeeping. President of Spirited Marketing, Miriam helps businesses and individuals uncork their power, passion, and purpose through results-driven coaching and training. Miriam's clients have ranged from Microsoft and the Washington State Bar Association to CEOs, cartoonists, and culinary experts. Miriam is Past President of the International Coach Federation, Puget Sound Chapter. She holds a bachelors degree from Cornell University and masters degrees from Columbia University and Peace Theological Seminary, where she is currently a doctoral candidate. Email Miriam at, , 206.545.0809.