Calling All Marketers. You Are Destroying Something Great.

Posted By on Mar 15, 2011 | 8 comments


Last night, I was sitting and watching television with my girlfriend and an odd thought struck me.  Let me paint a picture…

A couple is walking around looking for a certain product…The couple is cute, middle-aged, and probably has a dog and one child. They are the stereotypical American family. The couple finds the product… there is a punch line…. everyone laughs. The couple buys the product. They both smile and their entire life is complete.

Let me paint another masterpiece…

I am driving down the freeway and look up to see a billboard with a smiling face. The face is handsome, even stoic. However, the picture is clearly stock photography. The man looks like a doctor but I can’t figure out if that is truth… or maybe he is a model that failed medical school. The billboard says… We are COMMITTED to our community. I smile because… hell… he looks like someone that I would trust with my health (I think) and he must be committed to me.

And the thought hits me again…

Brian Lauterbach (founder and one of my partners at MindFrame) and I were speaking to a group of nonprofits in northern Indiana last week. Brian was discussing concepts of marketing the mission of your organization and he said something that really stuck with me. While holding a year end gift letter and a post card from a national organization he said:

We are becoming lazy. We are becoming lazy in how we communicate! We are marketing to people who are extremely passionate about a cause… our cause! We are disgracing them by becoming lazy in the way we tell our story! If you are not passionate in developing marketing and the story of your organization… HOW.. are you suppose to convince people to give or become advocates?

And now we come full circle…

What Brian said is not only applicable to nonprofits. The message clearly applies to every communication strategy… from your local pet supplier to a national brand.

What happened to caring more about the product you sell? When did we (as marketers) become lazy? What the hell is wrong with us? And the worst part of all this is not the stock photography or models…

We are not measuring anything but that is for a different post.

This is my official call to all marketers…. all C-level executives… all business owners… to anyone involved in leading the communications strategy for a company or organization.

And ESPECIALLY to all advertising and marketing firms.

We have become lazy. We are using communication strategies that haven’t changed for forty-five years.

The world is changing.

Technology is changing.

People are changing.

Preferences are changing.

And we sit back… stupefied… because our “brand awareness” and “sales” are dropping in a region where we put even more money in marketing the “brand.”

Let the customers tell the story and become more loyal to THEM… not the other way around.

8 Comments

  1. Great post Kyle. I would agree although I also think it's due to budget. My non profit experience is they get too worked up about looky fancy… but sometimes fancy is just what's called for. Be authentic, always, is a rule for just about anything and anyone.

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  2. Lazy marketing has been around forever and will be around forever. Whether it's something like stock photography or commercials with guys being kicked in the crotch, people are always going to go back to the wheelhouse and nobody "punishes" them for it.

    But those who take the time to be creative will be rewarded. They just have to take the time.

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    • I agree with Chuck. I think the Internet has made it fairly easy to do bad marketing. Not to mention the only kind of marketing that is regulated is obscene marketing. I'd love to see a world where good marketing is the standard, but in an industry that continues to evolve, I just don't see it happening anytime soon. Fortunately that then becomes an opportunity to excel at something that others are simply ignoring.

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  3. Recently, while working a trade show, I was asked a product question beyond my expertise. I explained I was in marketing and turned the question to a sales consultant. I'm privileged to work with a sales team that averages over 10 years of production experience. They know the product. When I accepted the position with the company last June I was familiar with the company's product and reputation having worked with the group as a consultant. My first act, as an employee, was to immerse myself in product knowledge. I learned enough. Then – I got lazy. As a marketer should I ever stop gaining product knowledge? Can I honestly and passionately market my product without the knowledge? Thanks Kyle I’m going back to school.

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  4. Kyle – loved this encouragement! I read the following quote online recently, and think its fitting to the subject at hand. Hope it inspires you & your readers as it has inspired me (its now framed on my desk):

    "There's this imperative to go fail, and fail often, and fail badly on the way to building community, to building connection, to telling stories that work. If you're not willing to do that, i don't think you should go to work tomorrow."

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  5. Kyle, good post. Yes, as marketers, we are getting lazy, and it is apparent in how we focus on ourselves. Your examples of "We are COMMITTED to our community" is a perfect example. A hollow statement. Easy to make. Impossible to prove. Delivering more than a possible warm-fuzzy to someone easily swayed by marketing.

    Marketers need to stop talking about themselves, and start focusing on the needs of their community (aka audience). Once they start meeting these needs, the community WILL spread the message for them, and with the additional credibility that comes from someone delivering the message with nothing to gain from its delivery.

    We are lazy because meeting our audience's needs through marketing is HARD. We fall back on all the things that are outside our control, like the quality of product and service. The new litmus test is if your marketing is valuable to your community, even those that are not and will not be customers or prospects. As long as you focus on your solutions, you will never pass that litmus test.

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  6. I agree! Great post! I wish it could be easy to have quality marketing – especially in the world of social media marketing. I think the main hurdle is time. When you want to reach a broad spectrum of people, it's hard to craft personal messages to your customers- especially if you have clients looking over your shoulder just counting numbers instead of reading the content. But, I think as long as marketers try their best, the loyal customers can sense the genuineness.

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  7. I agree, there is not enough personal marketing. I'm not sure if it's due to the lack of time, manpower or money. Everyone is just hoping to throw key words, tag lines or anything else that will sell a product into their advertising. I agree that marketers needs to use the people that use the product. Word of mouth sells better than empty marketing.

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