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Marketing Mindset 101

Doing business without marketing is like winking at a girl in the dark

Here are some key pointers for entrepreneurs and non-marketing business leaders to help you improve your marketing strategy and hopefully get you the results you desire. 

Having worked with various business leaders over the last year, I realised that many organisations are not achieving their full marketing potential as they are being held back by the leader’s mindset towards marketing. In today’s consumer world, people no longer buy what you are selling but how you are selling.

They buy the stories you tell and are captivated by the creativity of your marketing efforts. With so many brands in the market and ease of information flow, it is no longer about if I build it they will buy, it is about creating an emotional connection between the brand and consumer.

With every brand investing heavily in trying to get your attention, it is about owning space and being top of mind in an ever-crowded world. Failing to understand some of these key points in marketing can stifle your organisation’s growth. 


Having been a business owner for many years, I understand how this can be an issue. As a business leader/manager, you often confuse your personal preferences and more devastatingly your personal social media metrics with the organisation’s. Coupled with the lack of marketing knowledge, there is a tendency for many business leaders to assume that their choice of media consumption and their aesthetic preference is the right choice for the brand.

Even leaders and managers who have long served with the organisation but failed to gain new insights and knowledge on the ever rapid changing consumer landscape can serve up the wrong recipe for a brand. I’ve watched as business leaders waste resources and direct numerous marketing efforts that were either “Wuuutt??” to literally “ugh!”. Results range from a plain waste of resources to disastrous damage to a brand’s image. 

The right way to channel resources and create the most targeted marketing efforts is to find out what works for your brand’s audience (remember, not you) to study the data that you have (or gather data if you don’t!) and if you can, plain and simply just ask your audience. The key is to remember to keep an open mind and refrain from confusing your personal preference for what the brand needs. 

“Refrain from confusing your personal preference for what the brand needs” 


Whilst we all know that quality content is tantamount to attracting, retaining and growing your audience, the quality of the production of your content is equally important. This is because the production quality directly impacts your brand’s image and more importantly, credibility. As we are in an age where we consume so much content, your audience is exposed to various content almost every minute.

This not only gives them options but comparisons. Do you watch a poorly produced content shot on a mobile phone and decide to make a purchase? What perception would you have of a brand that shot a video on a badly positioned mobile phone and earphones as a microphone? What impression would you have of a renowned brand if you struggled to hear what is being played in an ad? 

With consumer attention now at its shortest, options at its widest, speed of selection at its fastest, and consumers at their smartest, it is a serious competition for eyeballs and ears. Brands are all fighting for space and it is the ones that not only have the best content but the best quality content that wins. We are often blinded by our cost-saving approach that we tarnish the organisation’s brand by publishing sub-par quality content and ads, whereas as consumers ourselves we are attracted to and consume high-quality production content and advertising. Oh, the irony. 

“The quality of the production directly impacts your brand’s image and more importantly, credibility.” 


One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs and business leaders make is they fail to understand the right marketing metrics. A recent discussion left me aghast as a business leader referenced one epic failure of a sponsored campaign as a success and that more of such campaigns should be run. Every person in the marketing team and the sponsors of the campaign were extremely unhappy with the project and the team fell short of begging the sponsor to continue with the final phase of the campaign. The lack of understanding of marketing coupled with the ‘a boss must know it all’ mentality can lead to horrible decisions. 

As leaders, it is important that we accept and appreciate the fact that it is not a requirement for us to have to know everything. The best leaders hire talent, define and agree on the results, and step out of the team’s way. Remember good leaders are continuous learners, especially in these fast-changing times, leaders need to keep learning to ensure they understand the marketing landscape and use the right metrics to measure success. 

4. DATA 

If you want to win in anything, there must be strategy and tactics. These are developed with insights and information that allow you to make informed decisions. The key word here being informed decisions, not assumptions. Because as we all know, assumptions can make an ass out of you! I’m often left dumbfounded by senior executives making decisions based on next to nothing. With social listening and digital tools in abundance today, all brands have access to so much data. There is no reason whatsoever for business leaders to make decisions based on gut feel or their own emotional choices. With a mere click of a button, we can view information on who what why when where what and how! 

Operating without data is akin to driving blind and deaf on a highway. Gather your data and insights, continuously and frequently test your marketing efforts to see what works for your brand and always remember, to remove your personal bias and make informed decisions. 

“Operating without data is akin to driving blind and deaf on a highway”


A very successful entrepreneur once told me “If you want to cut cost, close down the business and you will have zero cost to worry about.” The key is to optimise cost not reduce cost. The problem arises as business leaders who are non-marketing centric and whilst caught up in the whirlwind of business matters, marketing and unfortunately people take a back seat in their priorities. 

Doing business without marketing is like winking at a girl in the dark. You are the only one who knows what you’re doing. In today’s world, marketing is the only thing. So many successful brands out there no longer own their own product or manufacture anything. They focus on creating a brand and marketing the hell out of it because they understand that marketing sells. As the founder of HubSpot once said, “it is not what you sell that matters as much as how you sell it”. As we try to optimise cost, its good that we take time to audit our entire business operations and optimise cost. A quick audit of a small organisation recently led us to immediately notice that due to old business practices (try decades) that the accounts, finance, admin, and hr were heavily overstaffed and operating with archaic processes that required numerous hard copy forms (didn’t help that the team had never been re-trained to keep up with the times). This coupled with upper management that is unwilling to learn how to use their mobile phones (some on iPhone 12’s mind you!) to operate the business, make the organisation extremely cost-inefficient. These could be easily and quickly improved for next to nothing and resource channelled to one of the most important functions, marketing. 

“Doing business without marketing is like winking at a girl in the dark” 

We titled this Marketing Mindset 101 because while these are basic pointers, it is critical that we pay attention to our mindset to ensure our organisation continues to grow. As a business leader or entrepreneur, we have to embrace change and learn to step out of our comfort zones and continuously learn and adapt to the current marketing landscape. 

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Written By

'Connecting brands to the people that matter most to them', Jwan's personal mission statement drives his roles as the marketing solutions director for The Malaysia Book Of Records and as a business coaching consultant. He consults organisations on strategy, marketing, and people. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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