Article by: MaryEllen | Monday, September 24, 2018

By Robert W. Bly

During my nearly a quarter century as a copywriter and marketing consultant, I have observed that business owners and managers fall into one of four categories as far as their competence and skill in marketing is concerned.

By recognizing which category you are in and taking the action steps recommended below, you can move up to the next level and significantly increase the ROI from your marketing dollars.

Level 1: Unconscious Incompetence

The lowest level of marketing competence is UNCONSCIOUS INCOMPETENCE: You don’t know what you are doing, and worse, you don’t know that you don’t know. You may even think you are a pretty sharp marketer, even though to others, that is clearly not the case. Egotistical small business owners who appear in their own TV commercials and “creative” ad agencies can fall into this category.

Do you think you are an OK marketer, and blame the lack of results generated by your marketing always on external factors, such as bad timing, bad lists, or bad luck? You are probably in the unconscious incompetence stage.

Recognize that you don’t know what you’re doing and it is hurting your business. Get help. Hire a professional from an agency or take a marketing course.

Level 2: Conscious Incompetence

The next stage up the ladder is CONSCIOUS INCOMPETENCE. You’ve recognized that the reason your marketing isn’t working is twhat you don’t know what you’re doing. Again, take the steps listed above.

Moving higher up the ladder of marketing competence you reach the stage of CONSCIOUS COMPETENCE. You’ve read the books, taken the courses, and understand what works. But your experience at putting it into practice is limited.

That means whenever you want to create a promotion, you have to slow down and think about what you are doing. It doesn’t come naturally.

In the CONSCIOUS COMPETENCE stage, you should keep checklists, formulas, and swipe files (examples of successful promotions you admire) close at handle. Model your own efforts after the winners of others.

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Observe what works and adapt it to your own product and market.

Level 3: Unconscious Competence

Do this enough times, and you will slowly begin to become a true master of marketing. You will reach the highest level of marketing competence, UNCONSCIOUS COMPETENCE.

At this stage, coming up with great offers, promotional ideas, headlines, and copy is second nature to you. You do it naturally, without having to consult your checklists or reference files. The quality of your work is better, and it comes faster and easier.

Michael Masterson says it takes at 1,000 hours of practice to become really competence at copywriting, marketing, or anything else. If you have expert guidance, you may be able to cut that to 500 hours.

Level 4: Conscious Competence

But ultimately, you learn by doing – and doing a lot. If you are at this stage, keep doing more and more marketing. When you put in 5,000 hours, you will become great, not just good, and your results will be even better.

Action step: Rank yourself using the four levels of marketing competence as described here, and follow the recommendations for whatever stage you are in.

Bob Bly is a freelance copywriter with nearly 4 decades of experience. He is the author of over 95 books including The Digital Marketing Handbook (Entrepreneur Press). Get the details on his program to help you become a six-figure marketing consultant here.