Don't add to the marketer bashing: avoid these pitfalls and be a marketing hero.
Why all the hating for marketers? It seems that those of us responsible for creating a compelling message about products and services are under some heat these days. Maybe it’s the blatant propagandizing from Super Pacs. Or perhaps it’s the fear of frustration we face when we get that long wanted FaceBook message from the old flame, only to find out it’s an offer for cologne. (I can’t believe I interrupted my Farmville session for that!)
It’s clear that just as social media allowed us to have a personal connection to everyone, marketers have found a way to exploit that connection for commerce. And why not? It’s the American way. Ever since the first radio commercial aired in 1922, we were raised on the premise that we could have free entertainment be it radio, TV or Internet as long as we were willing to put up with a little commercial activity.
Still, it’s not the public’s fault. We marketers have to take responsibility. We inundate the public with print and electronic media, screaming at them from every corner to Buy! Buy! Buy! We have created a general malaise of marketing fatigue.
Now companies don’t even want to admit they are marketing. I was shocked to hear Warby Parker CEO Neil Blumenthal wax on at Inc.’s Growco conference how they grew their online eyeglass business. Blumenthal told their great story of success and more than eight times in the speech (I counted) said, “…and we did this with no marketing!” Now I didn’t go to Wharton like the Warby Parker management team, but last time I checked, many of the company’s approaches described by Blumenthal including targeting, demographics, web design, product placement, promotional events, flash mobs, etc. would all be considered marketing in the practical sense. But I understand. No one wants to have to actually claim at the cocktail party that one markets for a living.
Here are the three good reasons most people hate marketers and ways to improve our image.
1. Lack of Empathy
Amazingly it’s not about you the marketer. If the product or service you offer actually solves a problem or alleviates pain for a buyer, great! That’s a good place to start the conversation. Don’t just spam away assuming that everyone wants or needs what you have to offer. There are great online tools today like HubSpot and FanBridge that help you narrow the pitch and reach your perfect buyer. Use them!
2. Lack of Authenticity
To paraphrase Jean Giraudoux, “Once you can fake that, you got it made!" Look, I feel for all the marketers that have to push bad products or substandard services, but that’s part of the game. Go back and improve your product, service or business model and quit lying to everyone so people will stop hating all of us.
Oh, and to those of you in the social media world who hypocritically extoll the virtues of authentically tweeting and FaceBooking 20 hours per day, look we all know there is an industry of ghost tweeters and FaceBookers. Let’s just all honestly admit that there aren’t enough hours in the day, and that we need other people to help spread the word. Enough already, you know who you are.
3. Proliferation of Boredom and Mediocrity
This is the worst offense of all. We marketers use up the most valuable commodity of people… time. We have to respect it. That means making the effort to intrigue and entertain so that even if our targeting is off course, we at least added learning or a smile to someone’s day. As we marketers start to flood the airwaves of YouTube with video marketing we must remember that a poorly crafted minute can seem like a dreadful hour.
All is not lost for the marketer’s pride. Avoid these three nasty marketing trends and you can soon show your face proudly again in the business and social community. People will once again respond to your tweets and invite you for a drink when you show up in their foursquare.