Pissy answers to common marketing questions

common marketing questions

I was recently interviewed for a magazine — just some common marketing questions — and I think perhaps the interviewer got more than they bargained for.

The interview turned into a bit of a rant. Maybe I wasn’t feeling well, or more likely I was tired of getting the same old questions when the world has moved ahead so far, so fast.

Shouldn’t we be asking better questions by this time, creating some new vision of where we can be, and what marketing can achieve?

Any way, here is the interview and some unconventional answers …

What are marketing tricks that SMBs can learn from Fortune 500 companies?

I find that in general, Fortune 500 companies are using ineffective and outdated marketing playbooks that try to drive consumers into a funnel rather than trying to come alongside them in a way that is sensitive to their needs and self-interests.

I think your question should be flipped. Fortune 500 companies should be taking lessons from SMBs who see their customers every week, and really know them and understand them. Determine what problem you solve for customers and tell that story in a compelling and interesting way.

Where should marketers be focusing today when designing marketing campaigns?

Most of the time, consumers resist our “campaigns.” They’re tired of being interrupted and annoyed by us.

We need to realize that the customers are in control. Most of the effective marketing today isn’t coming from companies, it’s from consumers and their online and offline recommendations. In fact, studies show that two-thirds of the marketing that works today is not our marketing at all. It’s human-generated activities going on in the consumer world.

So I think the focus has to be on creating services, stories, and experiences that help customers talk about our companies. The customers are the marketing department today. How do we help them do their work?

What are four keys to wildly successful marketing campaigns?

Again, we need to re-think the meaning of “campaigns.” We need to re-think what it means to be in marketing, really.

Here are the priorities I would be working on today:

1) Take extraordinarily good care of the few customers who are still loyal and don’t shop around;

2) Focus on building constant awareness that leads to consideration;

3) Create fun and meaningful stories + experiences that will make customers want to talk about you;

4) Re-balance your organization and budgets to adjust to the new marketing realities. Learn to create insights from data. Get out and talk to customers. Stop doing the stuff that doesn’t work any more just because you have always done it.

What is your number one tip for branded content?

For most companies … don’t do it.

How many products have you purchased in the last month, or your entire life, because of a piece of branded content?

I’m not saying there’s not a role for content in marketing today — there is — but it is way over-hyped as a salvation in a world flooded with amazing content. Most companies are producing tons of ineffective content simply because they’re afraid not to.

In general, people probably neither read nor believe branded content. They believe the content that comes from their friends. In fact, there is more trust in content that comes from strangers than a corporate brand.

How should SMBs approach advertising campaign development today, and where do they typically go wrong?

People don’t trust companies or advertising. They don’t. Once you figure that out, it sort of leads you into new ways of thinking about meaningful connections with consumers.

A successful “campaign” today is a conversation being led by a customer. People don’t trust marketers. They only trust each other. The customers are creating most of the best campaigns today, not us. How do we help them do their job? That’s marketing today. Advertising is simply a way to remind people to talk about us.

What are your four best tips for designing customer journeys?

No company designs a customer journey any more. The customer owns the journey and it is a tangled mess. This is not an opinion. Research from McKinsey, Google, and others verify this.

My advice is to stop forcing people into some mythical sales funnel and see people as digital experts who can get any information they want from a million different places and make up their own minds. Come alongside people at the point when they need you instead of force-feeding them materials that will get them into your funnel.

You can’t buy your way into a customer journey. You have to be invited in. That’s what marketing is about today.

I guess I should have been more polite with my answers since as far as I know, the interview was never published! Oh well. The truth does hurt! But, it’s still the truth.

Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

Illustration courtesy Unsplash.com

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