By John Eberhard

In a recent article “The Age of the Marketing Guru” I talked about how we have seen a dramatic increase over the last 15-20 years of marketing gurus, basically guys telling us that some new thing is going to change everything in marketing.

Some of these new “marketing miracles” have included branding, inbound marketing, permission marketing, content marketing, blogging, and the idea that mass marketing is dead and we can only communicate one on one with prospects on social media. And the gurus have told us that if we didn’t get on board with these new miracles, we were going to be dead in the water with our marketing efforts and our companies.

A book called “Marketers are from Mars, Consumers are from New Jersey,” by Bob Hoffman, brought home the point to me, which I had already suspected, that most of these marketing gurus were wrong and that marketing has not really changed significantly in the 34 years I have been involved in it.

In my last article I listed some things at the end that I called “The Real Stuff,” which I want to expand on here.

The Real Marketing Tips

  1. Mass marketing is not dead. It’s vital to promote your product or service regularly on as many mass media channels as possible. But not every medium is equal to every other medium. Try new media cautiously. Observe what your successful competitors are doing. Where are they advertising or promoting? Especially if they are promoting via a particular medium on an ongoing basis, you can bet it is working for them. Some of the factors that will impact what type of media will work for your company are: is it local, regional or national, and is it sold to consumers (B2C or business to consumer) or other businesses (B2B or business to business)?
  2. The essence of marketing is figuring out who will buy your product or service (what demographic, profession, etc.), and then finding out what that specific target public needs and wants from your product or service. This usually requires surveys to find that out. Then you put together promotional campaigns offering what the target public wants. Then you get in leads and then you sell them.
  3. Hoffman points out that ad agencies used to be based around a creative guy who would find innovative, funny and creative ways to sell things. Now they tend to be based around numbers guys, who do everything by statistics. I tend to think he is right and that marketers need to concentrate more on finding clever ways to sell things.
  4. The job of a marketer is to get people to actually reach and express an interest in buying the product or service. Sometimes you work to get people to join a mailing list or some other result, other than expressing interest in buying the product or service. But it’s important to determine if that some other result that you are going for, such as getting people to engage on social media for instance, is actually leading to people expressing interest in buying (and actually buying) the product or service. Hoffman says that social media engagement, for example, has failed miserably in terms of leading to actual sales. Not to say you should necessarily drop social media, but look hard at whether it actually works for your type of business, because it won’t for all types.
  5. Just because some new web site or other medium has come out, and even if lots of people are talking about it, doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work in driving leads and sales. I go by this rule. If I see some new medium that I think has promise, I will try it out on a limited basis. If it actually works in driving leads and sales, I will write about it and promote it to my clients. But many writers about online marketing will talk about the latest bleeding edge stuff, with no concern about whether it will actually drive leads and sales. I tend to ignore these types of authors.
  6. An unfortunate aspect of the marketing guru universe is that often you see a guy who has made a lot of hay himself using some marketing method. And at the tail end of that curve, when he sees that the method is starting to fall off in its workability or effectiveness, he will – create a course on how to do it. I have been suckered into this twice, paying good money for a course, that once I tried it, found it didn’t work anymore.
  7. Although offline promo media have gone downhill from what they once were, they are not dead by any means. Direct mail especially is still alive and well, especially if you sell to a specific type of target public, and lists of that public can be acquired.

Where the rubber meets the road in marketing, is getting in leads and sales. That’s what pays for everything we do. We can be as innovative or bleeding edge as we want, as long as we keep that in mind and try new things out, in order to see if they work. And keep the majority of our budget in things that work.