The skills we teach deliver real ROI.

The Problem with Marketing Today

The last couple years have brought huge changes to the marketing profession. We are in a customer-enabled and customer-driven world. People are always connected, and at most times through several different devices. We now consume content on our computers, our tablets and our mobile devices. The average consumer is much more technologically savvy, and as result is much more informed about your product or service, promotions/offers, your competitors and their offers.

We can no longer rely on the push marketing practices that plagued our industry for so long. There is too much noise, and consumers are quicker than ever to defend against unwanted advertising. Marketing must evolve to a pull marketing mentality in order to succeed. Our messages must be targeted, extremely relevant, and most importantly, timely. Now, more than ever, targeting and segmentation are the critical success factor.

That brings us to why most marketers today fail, and what I think is the problem with marketing today. We (marketers) have forgotten who is the most important party in the buying/selling/marketing equation. It’s a cliche, but true nonetheless: The customer is always right. Their needs and wants are more important than our own. We have forgotten the fundamental rule of putting ourselves in the customer’s shoes. Instead of asking ourselves what the customer wants, we have gotten hung up on how we want to market to them.

The shifting of our budgets to online marketing channels has been a major factor in causing this issue. We lost sight of how best to reach our customers, and how they wanted to receive messages, and became more focused on how to utilize things like social media, SEO, and pay-per-click marketing to find them. This resulted in us blasting our marketing messages and pushing our needs and wants of them to buy onto the customer. That probably explains the amount of clutter in people’s email inboxes. As marketing budgets moved online, we started utilizing the cheap and effective marketing channels that we were familiar with. Now the average person receives XXX emails per day, and likelihood of your message getting through is probably the lowest it has ever been.

My favorite example of this issue is the sign twirlers you see on any given street corner. We have all seen them. A business pays people to stand on the corner and twirl an arrow-shaped advertisement for the business. They probably something like, ‘Liquidation Sale’ or ‘Going Out of Business Sale.’ They are absolutely everywhere. But has anyone ever bought anything because of one of them? Have you ever taken any action because you saw one of them? You’ve probably paused for a minute to watch them twirl the sign, but can you honestly remember what the ad was for or what business it was for? Could you even read the message?

Some cheesy salesperson or media sales person dreamed this up and launched it into the epidemic that we see today. It is really just a glorified hot dog-costumed person dancing in front of your store. It draws attention, but does it provide any return? Is there any science to backup the fact that a person wearing a hot dog (or twirling a sign) will indeed drive more sales? Maybe we are talking about a branding ploy here, but is hot dog costumes (or twirling signs) actually how your target market wants to be communicated with? Of the people driving by, how many are really part of that target market segment?

Or are we simply choosing that marketing spend because we saw someone else do it?

It sounds elementary, but I think a lot of our colleagues have lost sight of the fundamentals. Put yourself in their customer’s shoes. What does your customer want? What obstacles do they have from taking action? Converting? Buying? How do they want to be communicated with? A good marketer understands these obstacles and emotions, and markets accordingly.

So stop dabbling in social media just because other people have proven it can work. Stop emailing your customers coupons because your competitors are doing it.

Instead, go talk to your customers. Ask them questions, and honestly listen to their responses. Put yourself in their shoes and try to understand their emotions and obstacles to conversion. Find the message to overcome those obstacles, and then look at the best channel to deliver that message to those people. Market to your customer, for your customer…Don’t market to yourself.

More by this author:

1 Comment on The Problem with Marketing Today

  1. Chris Knotts
    April 5, 2012 at 1:53 pm (5 years ago)



Leave a reply