I’m a marketer. In marketing, our mission, if you like, is to instill desire.

You may see a product you like, but don’t necessarily need. Marketing’s job is to instill enough desire around that product to make you need, or want, it.

While there are several facets to marketing – including the afore-mentioned desire, as well as awareness and promotion – the ultimate goal of any marketing strategy is to increase growth of a brand.

Primarily, this growth is in lead generation and in sales. But it can also be:

  • Customer acquisition;
  • Customer value;
  • Customer loyalty;
  • Share of voice;
  • Competitive advantage;
  • Brand perception.

At its simplest, marketing is the hub that holds much of sales, service, PR and more together. And while that’s part of marketing’s biggest strength, it’s also increasingly becoming its biggest weakness.

The Hyperbole Factor

Because marketing’s role is to instill desire, often it sounds like too many marketers are loving the sound of their own voices, and the niche area that they concentrate on becomes the next big thing to save businesses.

Take a look around the social web, and see what’s being said on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and blogs, just as a starting point.

Some of the choicest comments, posts, updates, etc, go a little something like this:

  • Why content marketing is the future of marketing;
  • It’s time for something bigger than social media marketing;
  • Social influence marketing is about to change your business;
  • Mobile marketing is the most powerful media ever invented.

And on, and on, and on. There are literally thousands of different takes on the four highlighted above, but they all share the same malaise of hyperbole where common sense is needed instead.

And that’s the biggest issue with many marketers today – everything is “the next big thing”, and brands need to engage or die, or similarly worded sensationalism.

The truth of the matter, as it’s always been, is that nothing is really the future of anything – it’s simply the evolution of the current.

Marketing is Knowledge

Although his expertise was based in advertising, David Ogilvy nailed it when it comes to successful marketing:

Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals.

Good marketers have always used research to base their strategies on.

When I gained my marketing degree way back in the day, it took me four years to attain. During that four years, we were taught everything about the importance of research – the data we needed, the filtering it required, the insights it gave us, and the implementation that would lead to.

That research allowed us, as marketers, to understand our consumers, or those that the brands we worked with were looking to target, from existing customers to potential ones.

The Four A's

It enabled us to create targeted campaigns and content long before content marketing was even a buzzword, and track these campaigns and see what worked and what didn’t.

Simply put, knowledge truly was, and remains, power. Except today, it’s not.

Lazy Marketing Syndrome

Today, marketers have an abundance of ready-made solutions at their fingertips that bypass the need for knowledge.

Instead of doing the legwork that real marketing involves, you have the lazy marketing solutions:

  • Social scoring platforms that promote non-relevant influence;
  • Content marketing platforms that spit out content in classic spray-and-hope promotional tactics;
  • Invasive software that allows mass direct messaging or mobile texts to unsuspecting, non-targeted consumers;
  • Social media “marketing” automation that blasts messages out regardless of goal, platform, relevance of content and more;
  • The pulpits of the gurus and their message that “everything non-social is dead”.

And the sad part is, people and brands are buying into this.

The reason? Marketers, in their ultimate wisdom, have created this fallacy that there’s this amazing golden goose that will deliver results without the legwork needed to make these results happen.

Marketers saw an opportunity to instill the desire we spoke about at the beginning of this post and run with it in a new way. Instead of the desire to buy a product or service, now the desire was “Don’t be the company that dies because you’re not on Platform X!”

Even though Platform X may have been the most ineffective platform for the brand to be on, because there was little research carried out as to whether that was the right move for the brand, based on what their goals and long-term objectives were.

The Folly of Marketers Today

The ironic thing at play here is that the marketers who think this is beneficial, because it makes their jobs easier and brings in easy money, are the ones that are closing the doors on not only their future success but marketing in general.

With the amount of data available to marketers today, there has never been a better time to be a research-led marketer.

  • Big data offers us the insights on purchase life cycles and consumer behaviour that we could only have dreamt of when I started my career;
  • Consumers are helping us shape increasingly targeted solutions that meet their needs, leading to warmer purchase intentions;
  • Metrics and debrief data show us immediately where a marketing message is failing, and how we can fix it;
  • Emotions around a message can be identified, measured and shape future interactions, promotions and sales.

Lymbix · Sentiment Analysis Reinvented

We have the opportunity to positively impact both the customer’s life and the brand’s success with these tools and data-points we have access to.

Instead, we push the strength of marketing – research, strategy, implementation – aside, and offer diluted versions that have little chance of providing the same level of solutions.

Worse yet, we remove the desire factor and replace it with the push, push, push factor of crappy content and supposed marketing that, while impressions may tell us we’re successful, the real story is how much has been invested and how little that’s yielded.

That’s not marketing – that’s taking the easy path of bullshit metrics and making them sound worthwhile. It nixes real marketing that meets the needs of the customer, the kind of marketing that increases the brand’s bottom line while improving the top line because resources haven’t been wasted on non-effective tactics.

And that’s unforgivable for any real marketer.

The sad thing is, this lazy marketing isn’t just harming an industry – it’s harming other facets of that industry.

When Marketing Sucks, Everyone Suffers

While marketing is primarily around the art of promotion and desire, its footprint touches many more areas of a brand that can mean a major impact if lazy marketing is left unchecked.

  • Future products and innovation suffer, since the brand is unwilling to put more resources into something the customer would welcome with open arms, because real data and insights weren’t forthcoming;
  • Customer service bears the brunt of consumer anger at poor products that don’t live up to the marketing hype;
  • The brand takes a hit, reputation-wise;
  • Competitors are handed sales on a plate as they react to your poor efforts and attract any potential customers you may have swayed.

These are just the basics.

Internally, the damage can be even worse, as marketing teams are fired, morale takes a hit, budgets are cut and stagnation replaces drive and future plans, with brands playing it safe and sticking with what they know, even if all that does is prolong their eventual failure.

While that might seem a drastic scenario, I’ve seen it happen before and will no doubt see it happen again, as we continue to be sucked into the lazy marketer’s pitch and grasp.

But it doesn’t need to be this way.

Marketing should be hard work. It should see brands demand more. It should see marketers deliver more. It should see consumers benefit overall.

Anything else isn’t really marketing – don’t be fooled into thinking otherwise.

image: Joel Abroad

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  1. bowden2bowden says

    Such a good post Danny and love your “Lazy Marketing Syndrome” definition! The spew of non-relevant material today is mind numbing. I often wonder when I see a good study or compelling research that opens thought if the sharer has even taken the time to read it. For me, I had fun with my education (way back in the day) but it was damn hard work. An obstacle course that prepared me for many more as I have pursued this discipline in life.

    • says

      bowden2bowden I used to try and catch people out, asking what their favourite takeaway from a white paper, etc., was – but stopped when the ratio started to skew towards those that clearly hadn’t read anything. There’s nothing wrong with sharing content from people you trust, but at least check in on the actual content sometime.

  2. says

    This is a great post. Really value the comments around the importance of good marketing research. In my past life as a Pricing Strategist I have seen the benefits of Discrete Choice Methodology  pricing research and the like. The  kind of knowledge and power that kind of research can give you around customers’ buying behaviour  is precious. It is hard to get that level of analytics/knowledge through other “lazy marketing” means.

    • says

      LSSocialEngage Thanks, Lubna. Yeah, that’s a fair point, it can get pretty expensive depending on the scale you need to build from and to. Though, for many businesses, even free and inexpensive tools like Hootsuite, Nimble, Twitter search, http://mention.net, etc, will give you some great insights for a very low cost, and just the manpower needed to work it.
      The research ability is there – unfortunately many are bypassing even the low-cost entry points.

      • says

        Danny Brown LSSocialEngage Nimble So true. It is interesting and sad at the same time that many are bypassing options like the ones you mention above. Seems like common sense to do basic research on one’s customer, target market etc. with whatever means available (free, basic, advanced etc. )but I guess maybe it seems like common sense to me because I have a marketing background?

    • says

      ScottAyres A little A, a little B, mate. I’ve always said we (marketers) have created our own monster by pushing the instant interaction of social and not countering with the delayed response tactic that allows better thinking. We’ve engineered an always-on world; now we need to show why that needs to be tapered.

  3. wildhighlander says

    Mark_Harai DannyBrown Thanks Mark – Yet again the simple truths are simple truths. The question is why are the ignorant ignoring them?

    • Mark_Harai says

      wildhighlander Hey, Ross – I think it may be a simple case of blindness, mixed with a little ignorance – and possibly sprinkled with a…

      • wildhighlander says

        Mark_Harai Maybe because everyone thinks the Big Problems are solved so they have to find new tiny ones to break new ground.

  4. says

    Part of the problem is that some marketers market marketing, or rather, market marketing shortcuts as marketing. I always saw my job as a marketer to connect those with desire with those who can fulfill desire, instead of trying to instill a desire that may or may not be there. It clarifies my mission and helps me avoid doing stupid things. 

    Because I always return to those fundamental questions – does the customer really want this? And are we responding to their wants or our wants? 
    It eliminates spray-the-area tactic of machine gun marketing, where the hope is that if we just keep talking, we’ll say something worth listening to at some point.

    • says

      Tinu I hear you, miss – although aren’t you still instilling a desire on behalf of those that can fulfill, since you still need to “sell” them to the audience?

      • says

        Danny Brown I can get down with that slant. In the colloquial sense of the word instill, yes. But by the strictest definition, instilling the desire would mean I gradually implanted that desire. Which is a skill I have learned is useful – sometimes people know they want something or need a solution but not what solution.

  5. SarahJocson says

    I think I am guilty when it comes to lazy marketing syndrome and uses platforms for scheduling my posts on my social media. But again i do not forget to engage my self with my followers and answers private messages, I think it has to be an attitude on how you handle your marketing, focus and time management

  6. MikeAtGratii says

    I agree with Tinu.  But I also have to say that businesses that try to use these ‘marketing shortcuts’ need to realize that they still have work to do.  They can’t just rely on these marketing tools and expect their job to be done.  Business owners and marketing professionals need to adjust and adapt their game plan to account for these shiny new tools (aka the hashtag search engine or social media analytics) and use it in a creative and smart way.  I think this touches on the theme of adapting to new technology and how people decide to use it.

    • says

      MikeAtGratii Agree, Mike, though unfortunately that’s the biggest problem. Business owners have been sucked into the lazy marketing method, they’re unwilling to see that real work still needs to be done. Then they wonder why their results suck…

  7. says

    Very thoughtful post Danny Brown I want to expand on this in a way. I think Marketers problems is they forget all they can do is get someone to try a product. It is up to the product’s maker to then win a second sale. Do you know that I bet 75% of the brands I buy never have marketed to me. I either found them in the store when browsing or word of mouth offline. Often price, packaging, name win over social media, PR campaigns and advertising. Often that sale win is from a company that spent zero outside the store. Either way if I try something and it sucks no way any marketing spend can win me back. If it sucks doesn’t matter how creative, sharp or amazing the marketer is I won’t buy agin.
    I think as marketers we need to focus on the research as you mentioned and acting as the guide to the brand to make a product that after we get someone to try…..comes back for more. And to me social media is perfect for listening and feedback loops.

    • says

      Howie Goldfarb Completely agree, mate. It’s why we talk a lot about the customer lifetime value in the book you kindly bought last week, and how marketing on the front end is just part of a bigger picture. Of course, the problem with carrying out the research is it takes time and work, something too many marketers – and other disciplines – don’t want to invest in any more. And then wonder why their results suck.

  8. says

    londoninkmarketing That’s the problem with skimming, you miss the overall message.
    As I mentioned in the post, yes, it’s primarily about instilling desire – call that promotion, or awareness, etc. But the promotion part of marketing is its key facet (if you’re going by the Four P’s). 
    However, I also quantify where marketing’s other strengths lie:Customer acquisition;Customer value;Customer loyalty;Share of voice;Competitive advantage;Brand perception.
    There’s also this post I wrote a while ago on what marketing really means:
    Regarding the “kill a mediocre product with a great campaign” thought – no, mediocre products kill mediocre products. You can market shit all you want, but if the customer doesn’t enjoy the mediocrity will simply speed up the business’s failure.

    • londoninkmarketing says

      Danny Brown londoninkmarketingI guess we just fundamentally disagree. I am coming from the perspective of driving profitable growth and managing a range of strategies and initiatives to achieve it. The four P’s (yes, I go by those, not the tactics and channels you listed) are each levers to which resources ($$, time, people) can be applied–or not–in order to achieve growth. Before you start investing in promotion you better be sure those resources wouldn’t have generated a greater return by improving on or innovating around the product or service (customer experience).  Marketing service providers have gained a negative reputation in part by reflexively recommending promotion (understandable since that’s how they make their money), even if the product isn’t ready.  I blame the client (advertiser) for letting this happen.
      I take issue with your point that mediocre products kill themselves. If that were true, there would not be millions of mediocre products out there today. Again, the problem is companies focusing on the easy stuff (social media, channels, advertising) too soon when they should be tackling the core customer experience shortcomings. Obviously both product and promo are needed, but at different stages. I assume you are typically involved in the latter stage.

      • says

        londoninkmarketing No, I’m actually involved in all stages – as is shown by my points around CX for any client I work with.
        We actually agree on a lot of things but, as I mentioned in my reply, your skimming probably missed these nuances. And if you ever have a skim through my marketing category archives, you’ll see how much emphasis I place on more than just the promotion part.
        Which is what this post is essentially about, the hyeprbole of lazy marketers.

  9. says

    Well, I don’t see anything wrong with metrics as long as you don’t over rely your data on it. It’s more like an integration of traditional and modern marketing. A little research and metrics. :)


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