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INTERVIEW: Best-selling Author & CEO Mark Stevens – How To Know If Your Marketing Sucks

This section of our site is called “Expert Interviews.”  It features interviews with top experts who will reveal ideas, perspectives, and methods that will help you take your business to the next level.

Today’s interview is with Mark Stevens. 

Mark Stevens is a best-selling author, CEO of MSCO, a results-driven management and marketing firm, and a popular media commentator on a host of business matters including marketing, branding, management, and sales. He is known for delivering business insights with blunt truths and unconventional wisdom. 

Stevens’ firm, MSCO, represents a stellar roster of clients including Nike, Starwood, GE, Guardian Life, Intrawest, Estee Lauder, The MONY Group, Environmental Systems Products, Virgin Air, and many others.

Steven’s wildly successful blog, Unconventional Thinking is ranked among “Top 10 Marketing Blogs in the World” by

Stevens re-wrote the rules of marketing with his famed bestseller “Your Marketing Sucks,” (Random House/Crown Business, 2003). His latest work, “Your Company Sucks: It’s Time To Declare War On Yourself,” was published August 2011.

Stevens redefined the rules of management with Your Management Sucks (Random House/Crown Business, 2006). He is the author of 25 business books including these bestsellers. You can find his blog here.


1. What’s a simple way that a business owner can know if, as you say, their marketing sucks?

They don’t know if their marketing generates Return On investment (ROI). In other words, if it produces more profits than it costs. Like every investment–and good marketing is an investment–it must produce a strong measurable financial return.

2. Why do small business owners need to scrutinize and be skeptical about every marketing dollar they spend?

Because most marketers are focused on aesthetics, seeking to win creative awards. Good for the marketers…absolutely worthless for the business owners. Great marketing has to grow your business.

3. What is your solution to marketing that sucks? What’s the benefit of what you call “extreme marketing?”

First, start with a business as opposed to an aesthetic strategy. Second, keep measuring returns and make iterative adjustments until you gain a high ROI and then adjust again to raise the bar.

4. Why do most small business not engage in “extreme marketing?”

Business owners take the lead, mistakenly, by marketers who are content with buzz and the cool factor, and have little or no knowledge of business principles. They need to take control of the process driving their own companies.

5. What are your thoughts about social media? How can a small business owner know if their social media efforts suck or not?

If you view social media as “social” it will fail for your business. You must treat it as an other form of business media that requires not chit chat but “education” about your product or service.

6. You say that the reasons why any company fails can be categorized under four main categories. What are those categories? And what can we learn from them? 

Lack of True Leadership and Complacency are the two most damaging. Without a strong leader no strategy can be executed no matter how brilliant it may be on paper. And once a business believes it can put things on auto pilot because times are good, the chess pieces reassemble and the company falls behind.

7. How can companies move beyond satisfying customers to thrilling them and why is this so important?

With today’s competition, liking a business or a product\service is hardly enough. People need to be thrilled. The best way to do that is to give them the unexpected. To surprise them. To go far beyond what you “have” to do to actually exciting and entertaining customers. They will be thrilled and will be your most reliable advocates!


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About Scott Aughtmon (1872 Articles)
I’m author of the book 51 Content Marketing Hacks. I am also a regular contributor to and I am the person behind the popular infographic 21 Types of Content We Crave. I’m a business strategist, consultant, content creation specialist, and speaker. I’ve been studying effective marketing and business methods (both online and offline) since 1999. ===> If you would like to see ways that we could work together, then please click here to learn more.