Hear This: Your Marketing Sucks.

I just finished listening to Your Marketing Sucks by Mark Stevens. It’s a hard-nosed, over-the-top field manual for helping you focus on pure ROI-based marketing strategies and tactics. Any savvy marketer would exclaim, “Duh.” after reading this book. However, as we all know, there are many who just aren’t all that savvy. (Hence, his decision to write it…)

What Sucked

  • Stevens’ attempt to coin the phrase – “Extreme Marketing” – to describe nothing more than ROI-focused marketing. I understand that he needed a drum to beat on in order to make a point, but the drum should should sound a little less contrived.
  • His language, tone and manner is cocky and at times, condescending. I will admit that after awhile, I found it quite humorous – it definitely grew on me.
  • We did this. We also did this. Then we did this.” At times, this book felt more like a brochure for MSCO than a book about marketing. Yes, real-world examples help to illustrate points, but many authors mix a combination of their own client experiences with examples from non-clients. There’s a possibility that he attempted to do this, but kept referring to the “Extreme Marketers who helped Company X“, making you feel as though the marketers were from MSCO.

What Didn’t Suck

Overall, I liked this book. I couldn’t have made many of these points better myself.

Like Stevens, I’ve encountered small companies who don’t partake in any structured, integrated marketing whatsoever either due to a lack of sophistication or just plain fear. I’ve also encountered larger companies who continue to throw money at marketing programs without ever asking, “Why?” Stevens’ dry wit takes them both to task and truly drives the point home.

Other points that I’m glad he made:

  • Marketing tools and tactics should build on each other, support each other
  • Question conventional marketing wisdom. If you’re used to saying, “High-end products can only be sold in person,” then try direct mail. Test and learn. Or, as Stevens’ puts it, Test, Execute, Monitor.
  • Try infomercials or other “tacky” methods of marketing. They work. (Even if they’re not pretty.)
  • The only acceptable measurement of marketing is sales. Yes, you can accomplish secondary goals (awareness, buzz, positioning) but that’s just the point – they’re secondary.
  • Every dollar you spend on marketing should generate more than $1 in return.


Who should read this book:

  • Small business owners
  • Marketing managers in big companies where real ROI is typically overlooked

Available in audiobook and dead tree versions.

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