For 25 years Tony Cotrupi has worked in all corners of marketing, providing strategic and creative counsel in thousands of engagements with companies from start-up to Fortune 500.

After a sabbatical between companies, any revelations?

Yes — how difficult it is to think deeply about anything given the pace of business.

This is our problem today generally — we need to think more and do less.

What do you bring to the table as a consultant?

Senior clients can do strategy work but they usually don’t have the quality time to do it. They are running departments, managing agencies, serving business units and putting out fires. It’s our ability to create environments where they can think clearly and deeply, contributing significantly to the finished product, that sets us apart. This requires time and uninterrupted eye contact, if you will. It’s an old school approach for the new world.

What challenges do marketers face today?

Most important is just deciding what to do given all the options. There is a tendency to confuse activity with productivity, with significant time and money being wasted on ill advised strategies.

Part of that is a fascination with shiny new things. There is pressure to be ahead of the curve, particularly the digital curve, but not all marketing innovation is right for you.

Also, the general crisis of confidence in marketing ROI. Facebook’s recent revelation they have been miscalculating video views, etc. for example, reinforces what CEO’s have always suspected. Despite sophisticated analytics and thick data decks, alot of their marketing dollars are still being wasted.

What counsel do you give clients?

It’s about making sure clients are first doing the fundamentals well:

  • Is your positioning rock solid, differentiating and something you can build a business on?
  • Is your marketing grounded on an incontrovertible customer truth/insight that allows you to create work that resonates?
  • Are your objectives measurable, and have you found the best uses of finite resources to achieve them?
  • Does your creative represent who you are on your best day, inspiring both customers and employees, and make a promise you can consistently deliver on?

Strategic clarity and focus are important deliverables. Many companies haven’t re-examined their fundamentals in years — the marketing machine is chugging along, consuming resources, but they are lost. And that can be expensive.

Final thoughts?

Yes. I’m excited about helping clients navigate a pretty daunting marketing universe. We bring clarity to complexity, and therein lies tremendous opportunity.

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