July 07, 2009

When Bad Trends Collide

This is a particularly dangerous time for marketers.

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.
The devastating effect of a feeble economy has punished almost all businesses. Put it together with an uncertain, speculative philosophy of marketing and you've got yourself a highly intoxicating, dangerous cocktail.

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