There are two bad trends converging on the marketing world. The multiplier effect of both together is more dangerous than the sum of the two.
First is a bad economy. Very few are immune to its effects.
The second is a new, unproven theory of marketing that is being accepted as fact by a gullible, frightened marketing community.
Take a company that is suffering from the effects of the recession, add some fearful marketing executives swinging wildly, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Here are some of the symptoms:
- The primacy of "channel" over ideas. Too much advertising no longer starts with an idea. It now starts with a channel -- "let's do social media", "let's do a viral video", "let's Twitter." I attended a conference recently in which an expert on digital marketing told us that the central hub of marketing is no longer the brand idea -- it's the website. This is not a joke.
- The greed of ad industry leaders. They are afraid to get up and say, "wait a minute." They are afraid to defend the principles that made them rich and famous. They are afraid to call bullshit on the bullshit artists.
- The smugness of digital zealots. Despite its enormous popularity, the web has proven to be a very elusive muse for marketers. It has spawned a few highly publicized successes and a torrent of expensive failures.