Mathematical Liars and Frightened Bullies: The Dangers of So-Called Marketing Experts

By Kirk Eidson

Tom Hanks Never Lets Us Down

Photo from

I just finished watching the movie BIG with Tom Hanks. Love that movie. There’s a line that I never paid attention to before. A line that must not have had much meaning for me until now. It’s the line where MacMillan (the owner and president of MacMillan Toys) is arguing with his marketing team about what sells toys. He says, “let’s not lie to ourselves, if a kid likes a toy, it sells”. His hired “experts” begin to hit him back with, the reports say, and, the numbers say, to which MacMillain interjects and says, “you’re working the marketing, you’re working the numbers, work the kids”. And then again, when he runs into Tom Hanks character Josh Baskin (his actual target demographic) at a mall in the toy area and begins to get his opinion on certain toys. Josh gives a real response (because he’s a kid) to which MacMillain replies, “You can’t see this on a marketing report.” 

Breathing Intensifies

Photo from

I just heard the gasps from those of you that are in advertising and marketing. And I’ll admit it’s not that simple. BUT, my point is that it’s not as complicated as some would like for you to believe. The contrast in the movie is a perfect description of how analysis and over complication of statistics can disconnect businesses from their actual customer/client. Severing them to the point where the business loses sight of what they’re actually trying to accomplish for their customer/client i.e. the reason they got into business in the first place.

Figures Lie and Liars Figure

Do numbers have value? Yes. Do statistics have value? Of course. But numbers tell a story, and as a business owner, YOU can determine how much weight those numbers, figures and statistics should hold in all of your business decisions, marketing, hiring, investing etc. I used to have a manager that told me Figures lie and liars figure. Numbers can be manipulated to look like anything. The only numbers that matter are the numbers that actually relate to tangible results. Results = more clients or more revenue. 

It's Time to Cut

I’m going to steal a line from BIG. Let’s not lie to ourselves, so-called marketing experts are scrambling right now, scared of losing what they have because they’ve become complacent. When you’re paying someone who has become complacent, it’s time to cut them. You heard me, it’s time to fire them.

Red Flags

Here’s some points that should throw up red-flags for you when you’re meeting with experts or consultants that claim they’re going to work miracles on your business:

1.     Unprepared. They don’t know enough about your business. In the 21st century, anyone claiming they want to help your business succeed should know who you are, where you are, who your GENERAL customer/client base is and have at least ONE idea on how to initiate growth.

2.     Leaches. They see dollar signs and their fangs drop like a vampire. They see green and all they want to do is bill you for meetings before they’ve actually produced anything. They expect to get paid before they’ve done any work. They bill you for discussions and meetings that should be done on their time. They over charge you for production costs and don’t leave you with much money to actually advertise or market with. All of this is ridiculous. It’s not about them, it’s about you. You’re hiring them to be an extension of your marketing efforts, they should prove to you that they can produce something you cannot. Why else would you need them? They should show you how to MAXIMIZE your dollar not bleed you out.

3.     Figures lie and liars figure. They use numbers and graphs to try and explain things that don’t necessarily make much sense. I agree that some forms of marketing are complicated and require some stats to explain. But if the overall goal is not clear, that’s when you should ask some serious questions before moving forward with them.

4.     This works for everyone. They use a cookie-cutter approach and don’t dig enough into truly understanding your business, where you’re going, what your clients or customers look like now, and what you want them to look like going forward. Some things are self-explanatory, but if you want to stand above the crowd, you’ll need to have a different strategy than everyone else.

5.     They make you do all the work. Don’t pay someone else for something that you can do yourself. If they are producing results for you, keep them. If they aren’t, chop chop


6.     They don’t have a solid plan. These people are just trying to get their pay. Most of the time, these types of people don’t understand business as a whole and as a result, they don’t see the BIG picture of you and where you need to be.

7.     When in doubt, BULLY. When they sense you are wanting to back off from their services or flat out fire them, they begin to threaten you with contracts and demand you have to continue to do business with them. This is fear and NEVER produces growth. Get away from them. Don’t take their garbage. Fire them.

Here's To Your Success!

These are some real raw points that you should take a serious look at before entering into a business relationship with any expert, recommended or not. Don't let people push you around. Take charge of your business. Seek out the RIGHT advice. 3rd party expertise can be a great thing and a huge money-maker for your business. A lot of times you need an outside pair of eyes to see what you cannot. Input from obviously knowledgeable people can be necessary, and if you get the RIGHT advice, I see growth in your future. There are some truly experienced people out there that care about your business and want to see you succeed. Those are the experts you should seek out. That is the assistance you should want for your business. And if you get results (results = more customers/clients, more revenue) then you won't mind paying them. 


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