Strategy in the Era of Brute Force Marketing

Will marketing strategists become the horse grooms of the 21st century?

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Nice work if you can get it

Grooming horses probably seemed like a nice job in the 19th century.  After all, you got plenty of exercise and got to work with animals.  What’s not to like?

Well, in a word, Buicks.

Just as one form of technology destroyed the jobs of hundreds of thousands of horse grooms, another may lay waste to the jobs of thousands of marketing and advertising strategists.  As more and more digital marketing tools adopt optimization features, some of the core functions of the marketing strategist may begin to seem redundant.  However, I think that smart strategists will regard these tools not the way that John Henry regarded the steam drill but rather the way the first taxicab driver regarded a Model T.  That is, technology doesn’t take jobs away; rather, it makes them bigger.

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Book Review: Hamilton

While it may seem counter-intuitive that Lin-Manuel Miranda chose to portray the life of one of America’s most patrician Founding Fathers via hip-hop, it shouldn’t.  This descendant of a Scottish laird had words.  Lots of words.

He wrote poetry as a young boy clerking for a merchant in his native Caribbean.  He wrote his first political tracts as a student at King’s College before the Revolution and the institution’s name-change to Columbia.  He wrote dispatches after dispatches as an aide-de-camp to General George Washington.  Most significantly, he helped write the United States Constitution and, most importantly for us marketers, the first great piece of content marketing in the new republic, the Federalist Papers.

While the Federalist Papers represent content marketing at its best, other Hamilton publications show content marketing at its worst.  These extremes serve as good guideposts for modern content marketers.

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Data’s Inigo Montoya Problem (Part II)

If you’ve had campaigns fail because of bad data, then maybe you’ve fallen victim to the “Inigo Montoya problem of data.”  That is, maybe you’ve used data that don’t mean what you think they mean.

Previously, I discussed the origins of bad marketing data.  Now I’d like to discuss how to fix the problem.

First, I recommend something so exciting that you probably will not finish reading this post before trying it: read the dictionary.

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Yeah, yeah.  I know.  All characters, no plot.  Wait, no.  That’s the phone book.

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Your Campaign Needs a Kill Switch

Just a quick note before getting to part 2 of “Data’s Inigo Montoya Problem.”

Your digital campaigns need an “off” switch.  Seriously.

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Don’t have one?  Get one.

As many people did, I visited Twitter Friday night to get a sense of the tragedy in Paris as it unfolded.  Along with breaking news and some poorly-conceived instant opinions, I saw some perfectly normal tweets about marketing ideas from marketing experts I follow.  Or, rather, I saw what would have been perfectly normal tweets about marketing ideas had every person in the Western world not had Paris on his or her mind.

I won’t name names, but several marketers persisted in posting articles even as other posts listed numbers of dead and wounded.  Marketing emails continued to pour in as well, often with mundane Holiday sales.  I can only assume that the marketers in question had scheduled these posts and emails hours if not days ago.

As a marketer, you probably don’t need a complex strategy to address major tragedies (I’d make exceptions for brands that have a role to play in the aftermath of tragedies, such as telecommunications brands).  You do need an “off” switch to stop your campaigns immediately.  In addition, you need someone senior enough and sober enough to make the decision to use that off switch.  If you can’t accept the basic human decency argument, then at least pay attention to your response; I can’t believe people want to read your tweets and emails when tragedy strikes.  Your exposures have probably gone to waste in times like these.

Anyone wishing to use the argument of “if we stop marketing, then the terrorists have already won” may meet me on the field of honor at dawn.

Behind the Numbers: Which Child is Your Favorite?

Behind the numbers is a recurring feature on this blog, designed to demystify charts, graphs, tables and all manner of data.

Do you have more than one kid?  Quick, which one do you love the most?

Uh huh.  That’s how I feel about this survey:

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H/T to MarketingProfs

At face value, this chart suggests that a plurality of marketers don’t know which digital channel drives the most revenue.  Pity these poor marketers.  As they sit, watching money come in through the mail slot, they gaze in wonder as to its origins.  Perhaps it works like this:

Amiright?

How many of those 33% answered “not sure” or selected one of the other channels because they would have preferred to answer “it’s complicated?”  Certainly, anyone who runs more than one digital channel (e.g. everyone) understands intuitively that all the channels play on one another.  Sure, someone may have bought from an email, but maybe she wouldn’t have received the email had SEO and content marketing encouraged her to sign up for in the the first place.  For that matter, neither content marketing nor the website itself appear on the list.  What’s up with that?

Without stepping into the attribution debate, it stands to reason that most marketers couldn’t select a single most important channel any more than they could select a single best child.

Unless you’re Archie Manning.  Then it’s clearly Eli.

I don’t want to die alone. Pass the guacamole.

Superbowl 49 had more viewers than any other in history.  Turns out that football wasn’t the only thing on everyone’s mind:

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That’s right: 3% of you were using dating apps on your phone or tablet during the game.  By my calculations, that’s 1.6 million Americans (114 million viewers x 46% using apps x 3% using dating apps).  Roughly speaking, the population of Philadelphia was looking for love on Sunday night.  (Understandable, given that a 10-6 record didn’t merit the Eagles a playoff berth.)

If I were Match.com or even Ashley Madison, I’d really want to break those numbers out further (male vs. female, straight/gay/bi/etc., age ranges), but if nothing else, I’d at least consider running local TV spots in key markets during the game and have football or I-hate-football content or offers on the app as well.

For the record: I logged one Tweet and ten Facebook updates.  I even spoke with my wife during the game, so don’t get any ideas!

Behind the Numbers: Welcome Content

We’re going to try something new on the blog: “Behind the Numbers.”  I want to show marketers how to interpret surveys and data by applying things they already know and–when appropriate–a healthy dose of skepticism.

The invaluable eMarketer newsletter shared a survey from content marketing firm Eccolo Media on  popular content throughout the B2B technology sales cycle.  Among other data points, Eccolo shared this one about what kinds of content these buyers want right after purchase:

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In descending order, these customers want content relating to thought leadership (36%), tech support (30%), new product info (25%) and customer stories (9%).

The data tell a good story, but they don’t tell the whole story.

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