Why marketing is failing: A journey from graduate to present day
The early years
When I left university with my ‘European Studies with French’ degree, I had no idea what I wanted to do. So I moved to London and started temping.
Through this I learnt I liked project management, but more importantly that I couldn’t do something I didn’t enjoy or believe in, even if I could earn lots of money doing it.
A year later searching through the graduate website, a job came up.
Project Management, using my French. Excellent. I got the job.
Where I ended up working was a marketing company.
It was a company that ran employee incentive programmes for big companies such as Phillips electronics & Ford, but was also branching out, using the principles of those programmes as customer marketing programmes.
It was fascinating!
For the clients I worked on, I had to understand what the customers wanted and then we produced marketing materials that showed how that company could meet their needs.
We used data to understand what incentivised employees to work harder and get the results the business wanted.
Basically, we spent our time really digging into the psyche of people and then creating communications that meant something to them.
When it came to my next move, back into London (I was missing out on the 20-s life with my friends!), it was only going to be marketing I would go in to.
And not just any marketing, direct marketing.
The type of marketing where you only sent things to very specific sets of people, where it was imperative to understand who they were, why your product was perfect for them, what their objections would be etc.
There would be data and research behind it.
But most specifically, you could see the results that you got and you could attribute sales directly to what you did.
And that is what has steered my career since.
Why marketing is failing!
But what I’ve noticed recently is that as digital and new marketing channels have emerged, businesses are starting to forget about their customers.
We are all constantly bombarded with messages around “if you don’t do this or that in marketing (insert AI/ Social Media/ Influencers etc) then your business will fail”.
And so that’s what everyone’s doing, rushing around doing the ‘next big thing’ or ‘this and that’, not quite sure why, but sure it’s going to be a success. The problem, it more often than not fails.
Because there isn’t a strategy behind it.
There isn’t an understanding of your customers and how they want to be communicated with, what their problems are, even why they are buying those businesses goods & services.
And with that there isn’t an understand of the key messages that the customer wants to take away from each piece of communication.
You are rushing into the solution, without understanding why it’s the right solution.
It’s like building a house on sand… it’s quick and easy, but it’s not suitable and your business is likely to be washed away.
Doesn't it take ages for a strategy to be done?
It doesn’t need to be a lengthy process putting your strategy together.
Chances are there is plenty of research and data already available within your business that will give many of the answers.
Not only that, your loyal customers are a fount of knowledge, and let’s be honest so are you. What you need is someone to ask the right questions, and who knows what to look for to give you the answers you need.
And once you unlock the answers, then marketing suddenly becomes less onerous and overwhelming.
Understand your customers and then you can do what you like
You can be focused on what you need to say on your website. You can choose if AI is appropriate, or if actually a simple letter to a prospective client will work best.
And you can feel that you’re not just flinging mud at the wall and hoping it’ll stick.
There is a reason for what you’re doing. And that means that the spend is justifiable. That if anyone questions that spend, there is a solid reason as to why you have tried it.
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