Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Here's Your Christmas Bonus

Sorry, gang, but I'm taking a short break from Here Lies Marketing, both because of the holidays and because I have a kids' book that was just released titled Jake The Grizz And The World's Fastest Snowboard that I should probably help market. If you want to know more about the book check my LinkedIn or Facebook pages. Until the next time, thanks, and Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bridge On The River Why?

Too many people confuse marketing with a nerd’s first date. 

I feel I can speak for the lank and bespectacled folk of the world, the squeaky of voice and pigeon-toed of foot, having been a brother on the march with the SAT scores to prove it, and I know what some of my first dates were like. What started out semi-promising as dinner and a movie ended up in a one-sided debate on the noumenal concept in pre-Victorian English literature. 

I find way too much of this spirit in much of what I read on marketing. 

Take this heaping helping of marketing-related letters and punctuation marks, from a recent article on MediaPost: “’Marketing tends to be preoccupied with staying on track with individual tactical executions or traditional marketing fundamentals like lead generation, campaign execution and content or creative development,’ sums up Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council. ‘However, today's demand chain requires a new mix of digital, direct, and retail distribution, fulfillment, measurement and tracking capabilities to maximize customer contact, conversion and interaction.’”

That’s a whole lot of summing up there, Mr. Donovan Neale-May. I believe you and I dated, and bored, the same women. And whatever happened to the concept of marketing as the way stuff gets sold?

Let’s take a giant T-Rex step backwards and try again. If marketing tends to be preoccupied with staying on track with individual tactical executions or traditional marketing fundamentals like lead generation, campaign execution and content or creative development, it’s bad marketing. 

Not that lead generation isn’t important. If it wasn’t for lead generation I’d be four-foot-three and have the brain power of a handful of Brussels sprouts. Oops; sorry. I confused lead generation with lead poisoning. If it wasn’t for lead generation I’d be doing exactly what I’m doing now, because lead generation is one of those tasks deemed to be a little bit too creepy-close to sales for comfort. It’s like the revelation that Abraham Lincoln slept with another man in a single bed for four years before he was married. It’s factual; it’s just not appropriate. 

Let sales generate their own doggone leads, in other words.

Marketing turns into bad marketing when it begins obsessing on the means rather than the ends, when they wrap themselves like a ball python around the axles of campaign execution and creative development.

It’s fiendishly easy to do, in part because there are so many toys to do it with. When all you have is building blocks there’s no question about what you’re going to play with today. Some kids say, “Rats – blocks again,” and sulk like a wide receiver spurned. Other kids build the Eiffel Tower. 

On the other hand, when you have blocks and LEGOs and Barbies and Polly Pockets and K’Nex and Hot Wheels and Uno and a Leapster and Twister and Trouble and Sorry! and an iPod Touch, you’re more likely to chuck the whole lot into a corner and watch infomercials for The Perfect Brownie.

It’s about playing, in this case. In the other case, the one over there being held by a supermodel, it’s about marketing. 

When you have so many ways to do marketing, you forget how marketing is done. Marketing is done with whatever tools are at hand to accomplish the current task, with the ultimate goal always being increasing sales, or something akin to sales, for your company.

William Holden in Bridge On The River Kwai was trying to blow up a bridge, but only because he was trying to win a war. He didn’t like the sound of the blast or the thrill that comes with watching a steam locomotive plunge into a gorge. He harbored no illusions that he was going to win the war by blowing up the bridge, but he felt pretty sure he was helping the process. 

The difference between that and dysfunctional marketing is that William Holden did what he did with the ultimate goal firmly understood and in sight. He also used dynamite more liberally than most marketers. 

Although it’s been said many times, many ways, it needs to be said again: marketing is the targeted application of common sense. It is only about the targeted application of Twitter or metrics or Q scores or best practices or apps or widgets or digits or Donner or Blitzen when it makes sense to apply them.

Put more simply, it’s not about the pencil. It’s about doing the right thing with the pencil. And you know what the right thing is.

When marketing is approached from that direction, which is approximately three degrees west of west-northwest, all the stuff that concerns Mr. Donovan Neale-May and all the stuff that Mr. Donovan Neale-May believes marketers should be doing miraculously converge.

Digital media generate leads. Campaign execution is measured. Customer interaction increases.
It happens organically. It happened even when all marketers had were a wagon full of Playskool blocks and a hammer, but we’re not supposed to talk about that, since marketing has a shorter memory than Troy Polamalu after a helmet-to-helmet hit. It’s how marketers keep their jobs. 

Even the best marketers lose sight of the goal, which is another reason why the goal should be as crystalline as the Lake Superior sky at night. Even the best marketing chops get stiff with disuse. But marketers shouldn’t blab that fact to the world. There’s too much to fix as it is.