Correcting 3 Marketing Misperceptions
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Correcting 3 Marketing Misperceptions

Correcting 3 Marketing Misperceptions

I've known Jason Silfies, vice president of marketing and technology at Coldwell Banker Real Estate for more than 10 years and find him to be one of the most rational, engaged marketing executives in the franchise and commercial real estate industries. We wanted to include him and the Coldwell Banker Commercial (CBC) brand point of view in this installment of CMO Outlook because of his tenure and leadership at the helm of a brand that has successfully weathered tumultuous industry undulations. Now, as the commercial real estate outlook heats up, how does he lead the brand to new levels of competitiveness and help the CBC affiliates thrive?

We asked him about the top three misperceptions of local marketing that derail success for CBC affiliates - and what they do to correct them. Here's what he had to say.

1. Technology is marketing and marketing is technology.

SILFIES: Technology is a very powerful tool, one that is constantly changing and making life both easier and more complex at the same time. Significant percentages of marketing budgets tend to be allocated to this category as businesses stake their claim as leading-edge organizations with the hope of adding to their competitive advantage. However, there is one simple flaw with this approach: the business fails to ask, "Who is the customer and what is our relationship with them?" Technology is an enabler, a medium that efficiently connects you to the client. But never underestimate that your client is multi-dimensional, and that it is imperative to first understand their reason for doing business with you.

CMOO: How many of you marketers have said this?: "No one is using the ." Technology is a tool designed for specific functions. The idea and over-use of the term "automation" is misleading in that it implies "hands off" or that it's someone else's responsibility. Much the same way a skilled mechanic uses tools to fix your car, technology can aid the skilled marketer in many powerful ways. However, when technology is expected to relationship-building and expectations of its limitations are not set, technology is often viewed as a burden. Who owns the training and adoption strategy for franchisors and franchisees? Building new tech is easy... adoption is hard. If someone is not ultimately responsible for the training and adoption of the system, the cries of "It doesn't work" will be heard from one end of the system to the other.

2. Marketing always delivers fast results.

SILFIES: We live in a results-oriented world, measured in the "now," or at the very least short term. This is true for nearly every industry, including packaged goods, financial organizations, sports teams, etc. It is the "win now" mentality. While this approach can work successfully, the results aren't always sustainable. Successful businesses and organizations think long term, building a team and infrastructure that will allow them to compete for many years into the future. It is important to build a strategy and culture that supports a long-range approach, and not sacrifice tomorrow for today.

CMOO: We deal with the expectation of instantaneous results (leads or sales) at many of the companies we work with, especially at the franchisee level. There is often the "time-pressure" to get spectacular results that do not allow for positioning or strategy development to fully bake. Missteps in the process to deliver "fast results" will lead to long-term pitfalls and do more harm than good. The proliferation of online and digital channels that can be accessed easily gives the impression that "speed is good"... and sometimes it is. But without the foundational groundwork of insights, positioning and strategy, and the time necessary to develop those crucial aspects correctly, speed can hurt.

3. Each market is the same.

SILFIES: Sharing best practices is critical in learning how to improve aspects of your business. This is a great format for many franchisees to shape and add new elements to their business plans and to help drive growth. However, not all markets and customers are the same. I have seen this happen many times, for example when a franchisee from the East Coast simply takes the business plan from their counterpart on the West Coast and wonders why the plan is not working for them. Understand that your market and your customers are unique. This uniqueness is one of the reasons why the hyper-local approach to content and marketing is proving to be successful. Treat your market and customers as individuals, not just a demographic that can be inserted market to market.

CMOO: One of the greatest assets a franchisor provides to franchisees and affiliates is a proven, systematized approach to business. Sometimes the overreliance on system tools and templated plans absolves franchisees from the responsibilities of marketing and growing business. Deep local market knowledge and the ability for franchisees to build meaningful relationships in their community are two critical aspects of successful growth that the best franchisees understand is their responsibility.

This conversation first appeared in the CMO Outlook blog, an ongoing initiative from St. Jacques Marketing. CMO Outlook presents viewpoints and future trends from leading brand and franchise brand marketing executives.

Philip St. Jacques is president of St. Jacques Marketing. If you would like to be included in upcoming issues of CMO Outlook, please contact him at or 800-708-9467.

Published: January 13th, 2015

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