I’m not one enamored of the Harvard Business Review. The ivory tower often isn’t the best vantage point.
That’s why I’m unimpressed with the recent piece by Bill Lee, “Marketing is Dead,” published in the HBR. The article does little to live up to the provocative title, rehashing conclusions most savvy marketers and advertisers came to nearly a decade ago (even the slowest among us arrived at them at least five years ago).
Why is marketing dead? CEOs are frustrated and customers are ignoring traditional media – just look!:
“In a devastating 2011 study of 600 CEOs and decision makers by the London-based Fournaise Marketing Group, 73% of them said that CMOs lack business credibility and the ability to generate sufficient business growth, 72% are tired of being asked for money without explaining how it will generate increased business, and 77% have had it with all the talk about brand equity that can’t be linked to actual firm equity or any other recognized financial metric.”
So what? The percentage of Americans that say CEOs lack credibility is at 79 percent. Moreover, the turnover rate for CEOs is at a six-year high. Audiences have been tuning out from the traditional mass media for over a decade. Read more…
For some reason, people seem very comfortable assuming they know as much as anyone trained in marketing, advertising or public relations. Whereas few people would feel comfortable second-guessing a
physician’s assistant physician assistant, or telling an engineer how to do their job – they are more than willing to micro-manage communications professionals.
To them, I say “thanks but no thanks.” If you’ve not in the field, and you’ve ever offered up any of the following advice to a colleague in the field, please check yourself.
1. You think we should advertise somewhere because you consume that media.
In all liklihood *you* are not the demographic being targeted. *I* am not the demographic being targeted either.
This happens all the time – I guess it has to do with some desire we have to feel as though we understand the average person’s mindset and that we represent the common opinion on the street. The problem is – it’s increasingly hard to identify “the average person” anymore.
Not only that, but whomever he/she is, none of us is likely representative of them (particularly where I work where most of the employees have advanced degrees – relegating them to a tiny ten percent of the US population, not at all representative of the median).
Instead of going with your gut – trust the data instead. Save your gut for the creative portions of the campaign where it will be needed.
2. You think we should advertise somewhere because it’s a “special” promotion targeted right at our industry.
I hate to break it to you, but every two-bit media entity worth its salt has created bogus “special interest” offerings as a marketing ploy to appeal to advertisers. There are “special editions” for everything now – and they even come out more than once a year.
To make matters worse, there are even entire organizations created solely for the purpose of selling worthless advertising to rubes who think they’re reaching someone.
A great example of this is the “Who’s Who” listings or “Internet Directories” for special topics. When was the last time you looked anyone up in a “Who’s Who” book? Carter was probably president. The same goes for special “directories” online; as the power and accuracy of search has improved, it has rendered the need for curated directories obsolete. You’re far better off taking all of that time and money and putting it into writing a blog to push up your rank in Google.
On Payola: By the way – if the “special promotion” includes freebies to the people buying the advertising (say, event tickets) – if you take those, it’s unethical and potentially grounds for firing at many institutions. It constitutes a conflict of interest for you to spend money that isn’t yours in order to get something free. You may even want to check with your Purchasing department because you may be legally-obligated to notify them or turn over that item.
3. You think we should advertise somewhere because they have special pricing available only for a limited time.
The amount of exclamation points that usually accompany the emails for these sorts of requests could fuel a mid-sized city. Understand that these offers are invariably overvalued. The reason they’re discounting the air time/ad space is because NO ONE ELSE WANTS IT (and there’s a reason no one else wants it).
The reason these “opportunities” are “special” is because no one else will advertise on them because they don’t reach enough people (or they’re not effective at converting eyeballs into sales). They’re the advertising equivalent of the bargain DVD bin at Wal-mart – no one wants to own Battlefield Earth which is why it languishes even with a $2.99 price tag. You’re literally throwing your money away – money that could be better spent with 30 seconds and a credit card on Facebook.
4. You think we should advertise somewhere because our competitors are doing it.
To be sure, there is absolutely value in benchmarking what one’s competitors are doing. However, following the herd can be problematic for a variety of reasons.
- First, if the herd is already there – it’s a diluted marketplace for ideas. You’ll be trying to make noise while everyone else is trying to make noise – no one is going to hear it. The Law of Diminishing Returns absolutely applies to advertising.
- Second, the herd doesn’t know anything you don’t already know. They’re not privy to some mystical insight – particularly the more members of the herd are engaging in this communal behavior the more likely it is to be outmoded because the soft middle has arrived.
5. You think we should advertise somewhere whether or not we can track the response.
Measurement is just as critical as Communication in a marketing/pr plan. If you’re not worried about how we’re going to gauge the response to our efforts – I’M worried about your fitness for your job.
If you can’t find a way to verify whether or not something worked – why would you do it? Would you have a surgery if you had no way of telling whether or not it was successful? Would you enter a competition that didn’t track how you placed?
It’s not fun and it’s not sexy, but it is an imperative that we develop some way of measuring how many people are converted by our efforts. Given how wildly media consumption habits are shifting right now – it’s even MORE important than any time in the past half-decade.
Moreover, ENTIRELY NEW forms of advertising are emerging all the time. What worked this year may not work at all next year – and it’s important to track that progress.
So “Backseat Marketers,” please – we need your input but keep it constructive and focused on the content that you are experts on. Recycle the faxes you get with radio discounts on them instead of forwarding them to us. Defer questions from ad sales reps to us and let us handle them (instead of allowing them to create confusion, conflict and division within our organization just because they work on commission).
Given the field I work in, I pay a lot of attention to billboard campaigns. I suspect this makes me different from many of the publics we target.
One thing I’ve noticed in my years of careful Billboardspotting is how remarkably similar all outdoor advertising is for colleges and universities. It’s eerie. It’s almost as though everyone is watching what everyone else is doing and copying it in some sort of marketing feedback loop.
This is likely what is actually happening, which explains the creative entropy. Read more…
Perhaps summer isn’t the best time to schedule a learning opportunity for education professionals. Unfortunately the Paperclip Webinar on Community Colleges and the Impact of Social Media has been canceled and will be rescheduled for a later date.
As soon as we have a new date, I’ll post it here.
Community colleges across the country are finding ways to teach, market and communicate using various forms of social media. In this rapidly changing environment it is challenging for professionals to stay up to date on the latest trends and functions of a social media landscape.
In many cases, higher education has led in the adoption of these new tools and technologies. Much more can be done, however, both inside the classroom and outside the college engaging publics.
Join me for an interactive webinar where you will learn how to develop a greater awareness of hot trends in social media as they relate to community colleges and begin the process of creating an effective social media marketing plan.
Register Here: http://bit.ly/ccsandsocialmedia
In the kampy 70s-era Batman TV series (and movie), Adam West’s titular character was always trying to extricate himself from a supervillain’s trap by “reversing the polarity.” It’s one of those pseudo-sciencey terms that pre-teen kids find believable (even nerdy kids who like Dr. Who).
Colleagues and I have joked before that the marketing budgets of some projects would be better spent bribing the very small target population than trying to break through the deluge of noise consumers encounter each day by paying for mass media channels (the very entities creating the noise).
Twitter. Facebook. Pinterest. Linkedin. Blogs. RSS. SMS. Foursquare. Google Places.
Thanks to social media there are enumerable ways for any organization to broadcast messages to its publics. There are so many channels with such low cost barriers that the decisions marketers and PR pros need to make are all about how many to spend time on.
However, the focus on broadcasting often overshadows an important and underutilized feature of the Internet-connected world: the ability to reverse the flow of information to focus laser-like on a very tiny population. I’m not talking about Narrowcasting. The “casting” part still implies a lack of a quality relationship with each of the unique people you’re trying to enlist.
It is increasingly easier to be successful by focusing solely on good customer service or by serving a very specific clientele. That’s the Long Tail at work. Creating relationships.
Rather than spending resources buying access to a megaphone could you reallocate those resources to, one at a time, find the 25, 50, 100, 1000 people you actually need to make your campaign a success? I bet you could … if you can just “reverse the polarity.”
By now everyone with access to the Internet (and even a lot of people who don’t) are aware that Facebook filed for an Initial Public Offering.
If every other social networking platform in the history of the web is a guide, this signals the beginning of the end for Facebook. Private corporations are freer from the pressure to drum up wads of cash in the short term than publicly-traded companies. They are also more resilient in the face of economic challenges than private companies because they can absorb a period of shrinking profits instead of scrambling to implement drastic measure (like mass layoffs) to quickly cook the books for a pennywise short term jump in profits.
Here’s why Facebook will suffer from the rush to monetize the gigantic community of users it has amassed: Read more…
[Updated] It’s 2012, and the presidential primary season is upon us. In reality, it’s been upon us for the past year – the news media seems to have the same proclivity for stretching out presidential campaign season as retailers have for stretching out the holiday gift buying season.
Plenty of others have written about our arcane and stupid primary process, but I thought I would put a different spin on the argument that Iowa should not be allowed to screen the roster of presidential candidates:
From a Marketing/Public Relations/Advertising perspective, the population of Iowa makes for a terrible focus group.
Iowa is completely unrepresentative demographically of the diversity that exists in the US. In fact - it’s such a skewed population that it doesn’t even have a test market in the top 50 (unless you count markets shared by other states).
No marketer would risk taking a product to market nation-wide based on how it plays in Iowa – so why do we let them vet presidential candidates? Check out this selection of demographic indicators: Read more…
Since it launched in 2007, Twitter has gone from a single utility to a full-fledged social networking site. Just like Facebook and Google+, it’s now launched “brand pages” that allow owners greater flexibility in controlling how their Twitter page appears.
Don’t worry too much if you can’t rush right out and develop a gorgeous customized Twitter profile. Most people won’t see it. Read more…
"...and you shall have no pie."As my parents tell it, when I was an infant my first word wasn't a word - it was an entire sentence. Very little has changed.
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