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9 Ways to Save Marketing

Tonight I attended an event called Attention vs. Engagement put on the ROOT and BuzzMetrics (or maybe more specifically Seth and Max). Much of the conversation felt like a lot of people who were deeply entrenched in one way of thinking (advertising) looking for any possible way to justify it. It’s not to say I blame them, I understand that it’s got to be hard to watch your world crumble around you, but instead of trying to come up with new metrics why not spend the time looking for new ways to cash in on your core competencies?

Eventually the conversation kept coming back to what makes people talk about products/services. That’s not advertising or marketing, it’s great customer experiences. If you want to inspire passion in your customers, don’t spend the money on marketing, concentrate on building a great business that puts them first. Now that’s not to say that all us marketers are out of a job, on the contrary, there are now more opportunities than ever for groups who understand how to interpret audience needs.

As marketers we need to step up to the plate and find better ways to leverage our skills to help companies create great customer experiences. That might mean writing copy for customer service reps in call centers or helping the company create packaging that’s easy to open. After that our job is easy. Think about: Great products sell themselves, but instead of helping to create great products, we’re stuck marketing mediocre ones.

With that said, I came up with 9 ways to save marketing

  1. Start saying something! Don’t be afraid to speak your mind, at least you’ll elicit a reaction. A negative reaction is better than no reaction at all.
  2. Get involved earlier! Why do we wait until we get a brief? We need to try and insert ourselves more into the product development cycle.
  3. Let go of the brand! That’s not to say the brand is dead, just that we need to accept that it may be appropriate to deliver different brand identities to different groups with different needs.
  4. Admit there’s no one answer! Different products have different buying cycles, there’s not going to be one metric/method for every purchase category. Toilet papers will always be different than TVs.
  5. Institutionalize R&D! Let’s stop relying on employees to bring innovative ideas to the table and start investing in innovative thinking.
  6. Advertising’s dead! Don’t even bother talking about just advertising anymore. It’s silly. Marketing is the only option.
  7. Marketing’s dead! It’s a holistic approach. Don’t limit yourself by what’s ‘marketing’ and what’s not. Include everything and anything that helps you reach your end goal. It’s all about creating a great experience.
  8. Leave no stone unturned! There should be nothing within the organization that marketing doesn’t at least attempt to touch. You need to be worried about everything from call centers to product placement. It’s all about the experience and that’s what you do now.
  9. Stand for something! Have beliefs and stick to them. Don’t be afraid to stand behind something that might be controversial. You’ll most likely gain more supporters by standing your ground than detractors, no matter how loud they may be.

Sorry, I couldn’t come up with 10. Got any more I could add?

July 19, 2006


  • Nick says:

    10. Rather than simply create a commercial to advertise a product, start strategically sponsoring or placing products in movies, sporting events, shows etc. This is being done, but not on a large enough scale.

  • Max Kalehof says:

    Thanks for participating, Noah. You make good points above. Here’s number point number 10, though it should be number 1: LISTEN. Listen at every juncture you can: conscious behavior, passive and overt behavior, digital breadcrumbs of attention and intention. Of course the most neglected juncture of listening today occurs in a cost center called the customer-service department.

  • Peter Caputa says:

    #10. Hold events for your clients and prospects. Entertain, Inform, Help them do reach their goals. Hire WhizSpark to do it.

  • barbara says:

    I’m with Max. How about this as a 3-part strategy (a twist on our favorite kindergarten teacher’s motto): 1. Listen 2. Learn 3. Communicate

  • CK says:

    I think #10 is to “let go of control altogether” (it was always an illusion, anyhow). If you want to fix marketing? Two actions–and really only two–are needed. Lots more listening. Lots less control. The rest falls into place from there.

    That said, #3 (my personal fave from your list) is less about letting go and more about targeting. Both from the outside-in and across various niches/segments. This branding differently to different audiences is something I do as a consultant all the time…but never thought of it in terms of a company’s brand. I like it. Thanks for the good thinking.

    Well done.

  • Noah Brier says:

    Thanks for all the comments, the suggestions are great. I may have to add a whole other post with these additions. I think my most glaring omission was listen. Not sure how I forgot that one.

    Let go is a great one too, your brand is defined by those who use it. Accept that and move on.

    Thanks and keep the ideas coming, who says this list can only be 10 deep?

  • Paul McEnany says:

    I’ve got to go with Max and CK on this one. Listening is more important than anything else we do. If we’re not listening, we can’t truly be connecting with our audiences.

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