“I am very cautious of people who are absolutely right, especially when they are vehemently so.”
With that quote, Michael Palin describes how I feel more and more about marketing. Consumers today are pulled in so many different directions, with so many alternatives, that it can be difficult to figure out how to reach them – and that can be a problem when your job demands that you successfully do so.
Though many people who believe themselves to be marketing experts might tell you otherwise, the truth is, in marketing – as in life – nobody has all the answers.
Successful marketing is a magic mix of testing, messaging, learning what your customers love (and hate), and being consistent.
That being said, I have some opinions about 5 things we must stop getting wrong about marketing – but you’ll find that each has a caveat – for I’m not a person who believes that I’m absolutely right.
5 things to stop getting wrong about marketing
Myth #1: The funnel is dead
Whenever I interview someone, I’m always sure to ask them about the funnel. Typically, they will end up explaining or drawing something that resembles a tornado, sprinkling in terms like “the customer journey is unique,” etc.
And I think they’re wrong.
Admittedly, it’s a bit of a trick question, because while it’s true that each customer has their own unique journey, and we need to be present at any stage, that actually has nothing to do with the “funnel.”
The funnel is all about math. Cue SNL’s classic “It was my understanding that there would be no math” segment as much as you’d like, but there’s no evading the fact that the funnel and mathematics are inextricably intertwined.
Without the funnel, there would be no mechanism for making a demand to revenue a reality. If we look at this using real numbers, let’s assume you need to generate 30% of a 5x pipeline from marketing activities, and that your average deal size is 100k EUR.
For every 1,000 people who raise their hand and trade their contact info for a piece of content, you need to find roughly 120 that are real (we call these leads). Then we need to find roughly 15 of those that are fully qualified as sales-ready opportunities.
THEN we need sales to close three of those deals. And depending on how big your revenue targets are, you’ll have to complete this cycle over and over and over—potentially hundreds of times in a fiscal year.
Myth #2: Content marketing = blogging
The more I hear “content marketing” associated with blogging, the more I cringe. Though blogging is a huge part of it—and we’re lucky to have FCEC as an industry-recognized award winner in this space—content marketing is not just blogging.
Content marketing is a strategic marketing decision to create and distribute helpful, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain your target audience, and ultimately drive a profitable customer action. Blogs are a great vehicle for this, but so is a rock solid content strategy. So are slide shares. So are quarterly magazines or books. So are direct mailers. And how-to videos. And webinars. And infographics. And more.
Myth #3: Awareness is expensive
There is a misperception in marketing that awareness equals advertising. While it’s true that advertising like billboards, airport posters, TV, etc., are very expensive, and are a critical part of many marketing plans, there’s more to this story.
There are ways to create awareness that are incredibly cost-effective, and sometimes even free. Paid search and display is often worth its weight in gold, though you must make sure that once potential customers click, they see relevant content.
Native advertising, content marketing, and public relations are also fantastic methods to get your message out there. Also, don’t forget the power of social media done right. Having an “A game” team in place on social can reap tremendous rewards. The opposite can…well, ask United Airlines.
Myth #4: Everyone hates e-mail
E-mail marketing has well-deserved a bad rap right now. My current favorites are those that try to trick you into thinking the message is part of an ongoing conversation by putting “re:” in the subject line. Or those that have tried one to two times a week to get your attention, then finally send a message with the subject line: Giving Up For Now.
How many of you get more than five unsolicited marketing or sales e-mails per day? I counted 88 in my trash folder in just the past week (yes, I know I can click “unsubscribe,” but that annoys me even more than the e-mail itself).
Maybe we’re doing it wrong, and are using e-mail in a way that just doesn’t work for our audience. Perhaps instead of tying demand generation objectives to e-mail, we should use e-mail messaging for meaningful and automated nurture campaigns instead (or for event recruitment. Or for content marketing newsletters).
Myth #5: Yay, failure!
Lately, I’ve read a few blog posts that talk about failure as something to be celebrated. I feel as though there’s been an overcorrection on the entire topic of failure.
“The greatest teacher, failure is.” I love Star Wars, and this quote by Yoda from “The Last Jedi” encapsulates how I feel about failure. It isn’t a celebration, because failure isn’t something we strive for. However, if we learn from our mistakes and grow, then the moments when we’ve risked it all and lost can be excellent stepping stones for the future.
We do need to be able to accept failure, but we need to balance it with wisdom and humility. After all, as Yoda says, “We are what they grow beyond. That is the true burden of all masters.”
For more on marketing strategies, see “How Retailers Market To Consumers Using “In-Moments.”