An open letter to marketing


Marketing, you have become distracted; you’ve lost your focus. Somewhere along the way you lost site of your roots and abandoned your heritage.  You have forgotten that content is king, communication is personal and your audience has issues and needs other than your own.  They really don’t care about your goals; it is all about them.  Selfish, isn’t it?

You have been seduced by technology and automation.  It’s understandable, and it’s not entirely your fault. We all listen attentively to the promise of technology.  We wait anxiously for the next digital release and the new roadmap to success. So does your management team.

Marketing, your distracted relationship with technology and automation at the expense of message and story will not end well.  Laura Ramos eloquently captured this in a recent Forrester blog post:

“Once upon a time, there was a little marketer with a big problem. Her sales executives said, ‘We need more leads.’ So she bought a big new shiny marketing automation engine . . .  Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but I’m sure we all know the end of the story. The marketing engine didn’t live up to expectations because data and content didn’t come in the box”.

I’m waiting for the culmination day when I receive the marketing automation email that simply tells me to fill in the registration form.  No exchange offered, nothing of value for me, just the naked opportunity to give up my email, phone and address information and wait for the telemarketer to call.

Enchanting and powerful as technology is, it will remain a tool and not the solution.  To believe it has all the answers marketing requires is both naïve and doomed to failure.  But there is hope.  Every pendulum swings both ways and ultimately settles into a balanced state.

Marketing is ultimately about communication, persuasion, and audience experience and success is measured in terms of customer acquisition and retention.   It begins with a compelling message and content that delivers unique differentiation that your audience cares about. These basic building blocks do not come in a box; they are inherently human, emotional and memorable.  The technology and applications are important tools for the digital age, but they are the mechanics, devoid of vision and empathy.  Even the technology vendors realize this.

3 thoughts on “An open letter to marketing

  1. Pingback: Are CIOs and CMOs interchangeable? | the-content-strategist.com

  2. I think you nail it when you point out that technology is a tool, not a solution. I would add that, for many marketers, technology is a crutch used to distract from their inability to create compelling content. It reminds me of the ad agency trying to peddle a lousy creative concept using enthusiasm and a fancy presentation.

    There are, however, a handful of marketers out there who have managed to create an engaging customer and prospect experience and leverage appropriate technologies to optimize for the front and back ends.

    There is hope!

    • Well said. What I have seen lost in the digital explosion and technology blitz is the recognition of creative value and audience focused WIFM. Perhaps it is because I am so close to the technology B2B sector. To your point, it’s not everyone and kudos to those that recognize the need and continue to focus on message, content and creative.

      I think this is in many ways a natural occurrence given the dramatic evolution in digital channels and tactics. At some point I expect a ‘market correction.’

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