Making It Work in 2009: 6 Quotes from Martin Scorcese Put Things in Perspective

One of the young guys I work with asked me the other day how I come up with blog posts.  The truth is, they typically come to me throughout the day regardless of whether I am working with clients or at home watching television.  An idea will pop in my head, and I realize I can blog about that.  Conversely, when these epiphanies don’t pop in my head, I am completely screwed.

Here is what you need to know, I am wholly focused on helping marketers improve what they do in general and put the strategies and processes in place to make it through the economic storm that is in full swing.  The other thing you need to know, is that I want to be irreverent and fun in the process.  So, I was sitting there watching “Good Fellas” this weekend (for the 20th time), and a couple lines stuck out to me as bloggable.  I decided that I should take a whack at some Martin Scorcese lines in my next blog post.  Now, here we are.

1. “Every man … every man has to go through hell to reach paradise.” — Max Cady (“Cape Fear”)

I had to start with this one. Who knew that Scorcese’s psychopathic killer in the horror movie “Cape Fear” would make the list.  The quote just resonated with the times that we face today.

I wonder if there is a silver lining to the world’s current chaos. Nothing forces people to improve than adversity.  In good times, efficiencies are just good ideas.  In bad times, they become necessities.  For one, this applies to anyone in marketing. All the things on your list must get done: Marketing automation, ROI tracking, quality control, effectiveness, and payback in all your marketing activities. Now more than ever, marketing departments need to eliminate waste and become efficient, optimized machines. Doug Pepper from Interwest told me two years ago: “We believe marketing is the last place in the organization where there is opportunity to optimize their processes,”  He’s right, and now the pain is more acute than ever.

Your marketing should reflect this ideology as well.  No matter what  you are selling, you and your organization are trying to help companies and people make it out of the downturn.  Don’t talk. Make your processes better to win when every one else is losing.  Those fun little features aren’t interesting anymore.  We need companies to understand in times of extreme pain, it’s time to change, and my solution is the way you get there.

2. “I got some bad ideas in my head.” — Travis Bickle (“Taxi Driver”)

Direct mail with little return, “sexy” campaigns built with your ad agency that look good but bring no return, physical trade shows, tchotchkes… These are bad ideas.  These are antiquated marketing vehicles that marketers did so that they could show their boss something tangible, but now the boss wants tangible results.  Cut the “cute.”

By the way, this does not mean you shouldn’t try no ideas, but just keep in mind, that these should be focused on results not the overall sizzle factor.

3.  “In the casino, the cardinal rule is to keep them playing and to keep them coming back. The longer they play, the more they lose, and in the end, we get it all.” — Ace Rothstein (“Casino”)

Great quote, something I wish I would remember at 2 in the morning in Vegas when I am even or up.  This quote conjures up one thing: lead nurturing.  I am a broken record on this one, but I can’t get over the  idea that 80 percent of leads deemed unqualified end up buying anyway.  In 2009, we have to stay in our prospect’s faces.  Budgets will open up and when they do, you need to be there.  And you need to make sure you are fighting for the few budgets that are left.  The case for lead nurturing is strong. Take it from Ace: you’re job is to keep them in the casino.

4.    “You put my money to sleep, I’ll put you to sleep.” – Nicky Santoro (“Casino”)

Marketing in 2009 is going to about real cost-savings and real return on investment.  No one will buy anything next year because they want it, it will be because they need it.  The way you achieve that is developing real stories with real numbers about how your solution will either save them money or make them  money.  And here is the challenge: they don’t believe you anymore.  Terms like ROI, cost-effective, and so on that have been part of your marketing and value prop for years are old news.  The trick is to market real stories of real cost savings with real people.  Studies show that more and more buyers turn to their peers when deciding on a solution.  What this means is  get real customer stories with numbers they can understand and show them how spending money with you makes them money in the long run.  Simply put: you lose if you don’t.

5.   “ … the guy’s gotta come up with Paulie’s money every week no matter what. Business bad? F**k you, pay me. Oh, you had a fire? F**k you, pay me. Place got hit by lightning huh? F**k you, pay me.” —  Henry Hill (“Good Fellas”)

Sorry for the profanity, but here is the message to marketers:  this is how sales guys look at the world.  The way sales is measured is so much easier to quantify than almost anywhere else in the organization, “F**k you, pay me.”  Welcome to their world people. ROI is the name of the game here.  If you have read my stuff before, you know that I believe that marketing ROI should be judged by opportunities and pipeline created.  That being said, you have to actually achieve these goals.  Do not spend money on anything that does not pay out … and remember, no excuse will work, management wants to get paid.

6. “Lennon said, ‘I’m an artist. You give me a f**king tuba, I’ll get you something out of it.’   The point I’m making with John Lennon is – a man could look at anything, and make something out of it. For instance, I look at you and I think ‘what could I use you for?’ ” – Frank Costello (“The Departed”)

I will follow this up with Donald Rumsfield: “You go to war with the army you have, not the army you want.”  As an ex-consultant and third-party “listener” to what’s going in marketing, all I hear are complaints about the constraints on their job: “product sucks, sales sucks, I have a small budget, I need resources to get it done.”  None of this will help you in 2009.  You have what you have and you need make the most out of it.  You are marketers, you should be able to take the product and “make something out of it.” Your job is to to sell ice to Eskimos.  That’s right, we used to say that only about sales, but that falls on the marketer too.

So there you have it, Martin Scorcese’s marketing tips.  And I had fun writing it …

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

  • Absolutely loved this post, and will definitely give you some link love. You tell a story here, and stories sell. Love the relevance of your Ace quote about keeping them in the casino related to nurturing. I have a pitch in about 3 hours, and I am going to use the correlation – I’ll give you credit 🙂

    It’s interesting how my clients are who stepping things up, doing acquisitions, increasing marketing budgets, are starting to reap some significant rewards – and will probably see major benefits in 2009. Granted, they are running leaner, but definitely more efficient. As a firm, we like these types of times, because we can also trim some of the fat – both in resources and inefficiencies. I am actually looking forward to 2009 – it’s going to be a year of great creativity, finding ways to do more with less, and I think the results are going to be fantastic.

    “A lot of holes in the desert, and a lot of problems are buried in those holes.” – Nicky Santoro.

    Here’s to burying problems in 2009

  • Related to the first quote is 2nd my all-time favorite quote:

    “A diamond is a hunk of coal until is put under intense pressure & temperature for a long time.”

    I consider 2009 to be a practice/training round. You cut the fat, lean-up, get things working working optimally and essentially “get ready to win” … so when the economy normalizes, it’s boom time!

  • Great addition, I just commented on your blog about this as well but there is an argument to be made that marketers will get BETTER next year….that once and for all, we will do all the efficiencies we always write about and talk about….and marketing will end 2009 as one of the most optimized organizations in the company.

    sales guys will have it rough next year too. sales management will have to really think about ways to handle elongated sales cycles, buyers getting fired, cut budgets….

  • Two things, first of all, you are spot on. I am forwarding this around my company and saying “see, we were right, they won’t believe us unless our customers say it really did happen that way” – that has always been the case but if I can’t deliver a story that helps sales prove that his prospect will be a hero just like Joe at case study X company, then I am not arming my sales guy with what he needs.

    I think it is funny that you gravitated towards a Mob theme. We did too. It made sense to play on the word for our business since we are underpinned by “crowd-wisdom” and talking about Mob Marketing and Mob Commerce was cooler. So we’ve already used the Sopranos and Good Fellas, what do you think, Casino or The Departed?

  • PhilKennedy12

    The Departed…