The 7 Deadly Sins of Marketing (#6 Will Shock You). Confessions After 7 Years in The Industry
I’ve always liked writing. The previous sentence sounds like every other story of a person auditioned for The Voice or The X Factor, but that’s the truth. Since I was a child, I replied that I wanted to write books when asked what I would like to do in the future. During my studies in Poland, a Ph.D. got to this list. Still, when I started going to scientific conferences and faced the realities (starvation salary), I thought it was nice to have something to put in a pot. I respect it if a scientific career is a kind of mission for someone. Apparently, it wasn’t for me.
How do you link writing and earning money? While still a student, I was doing my first internships and getting my first job as a copywriter. At that time, I wrote for medical websites. I had absolutely no qualifications, so don’t be surprised that every runny nose, meniscus pain, or calf cramp are typical diarrhea symptoms. For your own safety, do not believe, especially in health matters, what some intern copywriter wrote down during a night after classes at the university and a party or another reading of Ginsberg’s poetry, I beg you.
In the following years, I worked in a corporation and marketing agencies. Now I cooperate with a boutique technology company and implement strategies and campaigns for my clients.
What have I learned in 7 years? The longer I work in marketing, the more I don’t know. However, I wrote down 7 problems (coincidence?) that affect most of the marketing departments that I had to deal with on opposite sides of the barricades.
Perhaps I would have developed faster if I had stopped deluding myself a little earlier.
1. Entry threshold for “general” marketing professionals
How to shine like a star during the interview? It is enough to know the theory a bit, read a few newspapers and marketing sites to make some opinions.
It may seem that you know what’s going on. Maybe you can even go through the interview painlessly because no one asked about the case study and data. What is crucial is experience and, at the same time, doubting everything that has worked so far. And for this, we need data and an adequately selected method.
During the interviews I conducted as a team leader, this theory worked perfectly well. The less knowledge and experience, the more generalities, self-confidence, faith in intuition, and infallibility. The greater the understanding and experience, the less certainty, the more concrete, tests, experiments, measuring, changing directions.
2. When does the work on the marketing end?
Each client is a different story. If the A, B, and C actions in ten companies resulted in the X, Y, Z, it does not mean that it will work for everyone and always. There is no unique formula to make products start selling and overload the B2B contact page with inquiries. Yes, there are specific standards, as in e-commerce, category and product descriptions are essential, but in 2020 they will not make your site successful in the search engine alone.
Sometimes there will be quick wins. In a huge e-shop selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars a month, a small UX change (e.g., button color) will result in higher conversion and a significant revenue increase. However, especially in B2B activities, you have to sweat well and treat the campaign as a war for the customer, consisting of many small wins and losses.
Additionally, even if we have a stable increase in sales or inquiries, it does not mean that it will always be like that. That’s why we need data to know what has stopped working and what to change. It’s a cliché, but in my experience, hardly anyone pays attention to the data in practice for various reasons. Too little time, too many parallel actions, no experience. You name it.
3. How much should the marketing focus on strategy and how much on the action?
The biggest bane and time absorber in marketing departments is too much planning, which, like too long foreplay, leads to failure (and besides, my last bus is about to leave). Yes, you need to plan, brainstorm, think strategically, but it’s even more important to proportions and frame these processes.
From my 7 years of experience, much time was spent creating unnecessary documents instead of real work, trials, verification, and checking with small iterations. Why? Usually, with big strategies like this, if you make a little mistake in the foundation, everything else goes to the bin. At the same time, you could build it faster, bit by bit, testing whatever you can.
Notably, the strategy must be coherent, one applicable to all marketing channels. The lack of connecting SEO with content marketing, social media, and paid campaigns leads to wasting time and money.
4. Work methodology and communication in marketing
Something that worms most of the marketing departments I have worked with is a lack of working methodology. By managing chaos, a lot of time and focus is lost again. Every day there is a change of priorities. New ideas are coming from other departments. You can drown in the sea of tasks sent with the frequency and speed of Rafael Nadal’s and Iga Świątek’s balls on the last Roland Garros.
I know implementing scrum/agile methodology in a marketing or sales team is not easy, but it pays off. People set goals together, conduct campaigns. The responsibilities are clear. The knowledge and ideas are exchanged quickly. You can see the relationships between various specialists with the naked eye. The book, which I highly recommend Hacking Marketing: Agile Practices to Make Marketing Smarter, Faster, and More Innovative, helped me implement agile practices in my organization.
Setting a goal, dividing it into stages, iterations, and campaigns also allow you to quickly research activities, measure effectiveness, optimize, and save. What marketing is all about is to sell as much as possible at the lowest cost.
5. What goals to choose in marketing activities?
Most marketing departments focus on marketing goals (views, time on the page, bounce rate), not on business (filling out a form, selling from a specific source). It also happens that everything is measured instead of selecting a few key metrics.
After all, there may be relatively few views, but if they are purchases, who worries? If we have a short visitor’s time on the site, but there are satisfactory transactions from that traffic, who cares if the traffic is low?
Besides, the data context is equally important because one can manipulate the data virtually and rely on whims without comparison to any other moment during the campaign.
As a result, there is a constant fight between marketing and sales due to the lack of the same metrics and a mutual funnel. Marketing does not provide quality leads, and sales cannot close leads — same old song.
You will identify a tree by its fruits, and you will know the marketer by its business effects, not views and likes.
6. Trends. Should every marketer use TikTok?
Marketing departments sometimes lack interest in trends and are reluctant to understand them. I may not personally need to use TikTok, Houseparty, or Kika. Still, as a marketer, I need to understand their phenomenon and be curious.
You never know when you will hit this target group. Even if not now, in a few or a dozen years, its representatives will be owners of companies or mass customers of the e-stores you serve. Unless you are planning to retire in marketing tomorrow, or you are changing your career path, and are going to focus soon on feeding cute little monkeys somewhere in the middle of the fabulous island of Bali.
7. All 7Ps of marketing
You have to accept that it is not always possible to win by promotion alone. Promotion is just one of the 7P marketing that Brian Tracy wrote about. As a reminder, the others are Product, Price, Place, Packaging, Positioning, People.
If customers don’t want the product, are discouraged by the price, or don’t make it to the point of sale, advertising alone won’t fix it. If the packaging is unattractive, your customers don’t see consistency in your messages, and they won’t create a habit. Hence, it is essential to look at the whole of marketing holistically and closely cooperate between the agency or independent experts and an internal unit.
Have you ever worked in a dead e-shop, where it would be nice to let a programmer in first and not to start marketing right away? Or to introduce a new premium product to the market where the customer expected a return on an investment after the first month of operation?
These stories prove that you don’t influence everything even if you try, and sometimes you have to fail.
Finally, a disclaimer
I would give a lot for someone to share their observations a few years ago about the approach to work in marketing and its system.
If the base is right, you can build on it without any problems. Still, if something in the basics of activities fails, then the entire intricately created structure may collapse. As with the five-year strategies that include 2020. Haha.
Hopefully, I will never fall out of the process of continuous learning, and in the next 7 years I will have as many or more new applications for working in marketing as I do today. Unless I will be feeding the monkeys in Bali, which I wish for you.
If you have any thoughts on this text, such as other or similar experiences, please leave a comment.