So rather than do the predictable this time of year and post predictions for the upcoming year, I thought I'd take a moment and write about what was interesting in 2016.
Let's rewind to last August.
It was lunchtime and I was skimming through my feed and I see this article on Tech Crunch "How Google Analytics Ruined Marketing" so I clicked and gave it a read.
Really good stuff, and as you may expect from the title, some people started crying and whining missing the point entirely. It didn't fit their perspective which only includes digital, so they took to the comments shouting and yelling.
"He's an old fart"
"A marketing expert who doesn't even know how to use Google Analytics."
"This silly article is useful how?"
Many found his perspective useful and I happen to be in that camp - and others were more neutral. The gist of the article is that many in marketing don't know the basics and run around using made up digital jargon and they think what Google Analytics reports on are the only ways to measure campaigns.
My work experience is all marketing (personal selling and digital advertising) and in each role there's been a clashes between those who market the product and those who sell the product.
There shouldn't be friction between sales and marketing, but since many don't realize sales is a part of marketing, each group goes about their own thing and as a result they have some successes but also do a lot of head butting and money wasting.
After college I spent 5 years doing b2b sales. It's common for there to be a sales department and a marketing department.
So I'd be the one cold calling and marketing would be off doing their own thing which was like art projects for adults. Brochures, colors, social media, blogging, and on occasion sending some decent leads to the sales team. And not once did marketing ever come to the sales team and say "How can we get you more good leads?"
The root cause of many sales and marketing problems is that these groups are divided - when they really shouldn't be.
Mr. Scott explains in his article that sales is a function of marketing. Personal selling is one of several promotion strategies.
Marketing is product, place, price and promotion. Sales part of the promotion mix along with advertising, PR, sales promotion, and direct marketing. This is how it's been for ages, and while channels and technology will evolve and get more complex, the basics still apply.
If the basics were more fully understood, companies wouldn't break out sales and marketing into 2 disparate groups and people would actually know how the hell to run a campaign.
When you've read Scott's stuff, you'll realize how silly these people sound when over using words like strategy coupled with digital marketing jargon.
Admittedly I've only scratched the surface on this and I'll be searching amazon for a college marketing text book.
I guess in many companies there's a clash between those who want to sell product and those who want to market. Even in e-commerce companies.
Sales is part of marketing, yet somehow the vibe I get from many in creative or wearing a creative hat is that sales is yucky and too pedestrian.
I've worked with company owners who talk about the importance of sales and conversion growth, but in reality new web design and digital ad campaigns are done for vanity purposes.
Just because there's budget to spend doesn't mean one should spend it.
Like a former freelance client was in need of a major site update. I said "Test a new design concept with AdWords Traffic before going live."
In one ear and out the other.
The site was also outdated, and had no customer reviews. Every retail site has reviews. No reviews on the new site, really?
Over the years the conversion rate fell and fell. She wanted more sales.
I said, "just get your site up to an average conversion rate and you'll nearly double sales." To do so you'd probably want to have customer reviews.
Once, again in one ear and out the other.
The site was redone, and conversion rates stayed nearly the same. Not sure what was actually accomplished, though I'm sure there were many calls, emails, fire drills and activity.
The Misuse and Abuse of Channels, Strategies, & Tactics.
I literally got an email like this. "We liked that the Facebook ad was placed in the desktop news-feed and the sidebar. We believe that would be the best strategy for our major campaign initiatives going forward."
What the f*ck? Having ads in the side bar is not a strategy.
Who would send such a request? Someone in marketing operations.
The word strategy is SO OVERUSED that people confuse executions with strategy.
Where an ad is placed is not a strategy, it's barely even a tactic, it's like a small nuance of a paid facebook campaign.
Which leads me back to Samuel's article.
Times have changed and things have gone digital, but marketing strategy hasn't changed. There are new places to run ads that happen to be more measurable and Google Analytics is a great tool for doing so.
But, most people don't know marketing, so they think everyone get's measured into Google Analytics pre-defined buckets.
These are kind of meaningless, but then again, people love discussing interesting, but meaningless bullshit - wearable fitness technology is an example.
And thanks to the misuse of Google Analytics digital marketing is even more confusing.
As pointed out in the article, digital marketing isn't even a thing. Digital is just a collection of channels (search, social, email), a silly modern term.
TV marketing was never a thing so we shouldn't swoon over "social media marketing."
The problem is that many don't know the difference between advertising and marketing. And when it's time to run and ad, most don't do the basic planning, instead they agonize over tactical things that should be done at the end - colors, fonts and changes to wording. Nuances that won't make or break and ad.
Meanwhile target audience, goals, appropriate channels get neglected.
I took to Reddit to find out more about this.
"Short answer, because there is no quality control in media planning or strategy. I've seen some really terrible people make it to senior positions frankly because they can say yes to a client and just "do the work". A lot of planners aren't challenged by people above them as sometimes they are just as uneducated or untrained."
"Media planning is often something "so and so will take care of", but in reality it's critical to the success of any campaign, regardless of its size."
"..people in super senior positions just take on digital as a part of their role or have advanced without proper training and can't even put together a proper RFP or narrow down a program to a single KPI."
"Exposure just for the sake of it" is called branding. Branding is important and works very well for certain types of products/services, particularly those that have little difference amongst their competition, and for a general market. General advertising tends to focus on the "soft sell." The thing is, it's hard to measure ROI on this type of marketing.
What you're talking about, the "basic promotional buckets," is called direct marketing. It's a different type of marketing that is not as reliant on brand image. It's a lot easier to get ROI data on this type of marketing—you can literally add up sales and conversions to see if it's effective. Direct marketing works well with products that are clearly different from their competition, and for niche categories that have small, specific markets.
Most creative agencies are brand-based general advertising, and create work that need higher-level creative, due to the categories their clients tend to be in. Direct marketing (DM) is less creative by its very nature. DM agencies do employ creatives, but they are really just putting icing on a "hard sell." Because of the downplayed role creatives have at DM agencies, there are far less of them, and far fewer creative-types want to work there."
As you can see there's a lot of confusion, and digital can be a complete shit show.
My point is that, there's more to advertising than general branding and not direct response ads have to be a "hard sell."
Channels get misused when people don't understand the basics and what the tools of the trade are used for.
Assuming you want leads or sales, the strategy for search marketing either paid or organic is always leads or sales at an affordable cost. Tactics and approaches may change, but the over arching strategy is the same.
You generally don't want to take a "general advertising" approach to digital channels that excel at direct response.
I'm not a big fan of wankers and talkers. Currently these types do real well in politics and in bigger companies. It also could be that the marketing profession attracts and enables more of them than other fields.
So if you want to cut through the non-sense and hype you can literally sort out all this marketing hooplah once and for all with a simple chart in the article.
You can actually do a marketing plan with this. Look over these strategies.
Think about previous campaigns both winners and losers and how the questions below (taken from the article) would have made them different:
Who is our target audience and what are our goals?
What is the best message for that audience?
In light of our goals, which strategies within the Promotion Mix — advertising, direct marketing, sales promotion, direct selling and publicity — should we use to communicate that message?
What are the best online and/or offline channels for that strategy to reach that audience?
What marketing collateral and creatives should we create and transmit based on the answers to the prior four questions?
How can we measure the results based on which metrics are relevant to each strategy within the Promotion Mix that we will use?
With a little effort you can use these questions to identify your core audiences, messaging and channels.
This limits your choices and doing so is a good thing as it reduces options and distractions.
So yeah Samuel Scott keep banging the drum.
Everyone Else Thanks for Reading & Take Care,
PS Did you notice how I mentioned that in nearly every job I've had and with several freelance clients there's always been "fighting/head butting/creative differences" between those who market the product and those who sell it?
Is this more evidence of division in the world? Consider that as we reflect on what happened in November.