The words “achievement gap” are often used when discussing education. When discussing poor schools or the allocation of federal funds in order to fix the societal ills. Pols and social scientists often suggest underachieving populations are so because of class, race, geography, and social perception. I can’t disagree. John Wannamaker’s famous line about advertising (“I know only half my advertising is working, the problem is I don’t know which half.”) could also be said about marketing. And follow similar causative logic.
There is a mad achievement gap in today’s marketing landscape. The larger companies are more likely to achieve, but it’s not always the case. Mid-size and small businesses (SMB) are more likely to underachieve.
In mid and small companies class equates to budget (amount of money to be spend on marketing). Race equates to diversity of background and thought; mid-size and particularly small companies are more likely to be homogenous. Geography dictates the pool of marketing and creative talent. The burbs don’t index high for brilliant designers, writers and coders. And when it comes to social perception, mid and small companies often don’t have the luxury to invest in or understand the complexities that are marketing – so they do it themselves or shop for marketing partners at Wal-Mart not Macys. Perceptually, they undervalue marketing; thinking it’s advertising or a website.
Margaret Mead while working at the American Museum of Natural History made psychotherapy mandatory for her direct reports. Her belief being that people who better understood their own psyches were more healthy. Small and mid-size businesses can minimize the achievement gap, but they can’t do it themselves or on a shoe string budget. They need to better understand marketing to reduce the achievement gap. Peace.