January brings out the worst in marketers don’t you think: it’s all cheap smoke and mirrors stuff promising to transform your body / home / business / finances in just 7 simple steps that take just 5 minutes a day and will change your life forever. It’s all tosh, and everyone knows it.
As marketers, we’re as guilty as anyone here. We know it’s tosh, our clients know it’s tosh, and when no one cares enough to come clean and admit it, marketing tosh gets produced.
If you really think that anyone can actually help you deliver the marketing programme you’ve always wanted in seven days or less, we’re not the B2B marketing business for you. If you want to #keepitreal, come up with marketing output that works because it’s helpful, useful and delivers real value then let’s get started. Step one is a B2B marketing #hackday
Why do so many marketing directors green light tosh?
Marketing tosh usually gets the green light when doing the right thing just seems too damn hard.
It occurs during the marketing “brainstorm” when all the sales managers, senior executives and company directors around the table choose to avoid the white elephant in the room.
Usually the elephant is something pretty basic. It raises its head when we ask apparently difficult questions like, “What is your company’s purpose?” and we get answers like, “Our purpose is to sell more of product X or service Y”. This is heartbreaking, but it’s normal. Most businesses are founded on revolutionary ideas that got lost in the corporate clutter somewhere down the line. As marketers, our job is to get that sparkle back.
Inspiring great marketing ideas isn’t the hard bit
Marketers are pretty creative sorts. We’re often confident and occasionally, even a bit lippy, so starting debates and getting the creative juices bubbling across a workshop can be relatively easy.
Our pep talks help bright people forget the project delays or budget overspend that scuppered the development plan and took the shine off the great idea they barely remember having.
With our help, branding stakeholders come up with bold positioning statements and disruptive straplines that everyone in the room loves. They’re inspirational because they’re born out of the big idea. They’re real because they are unchecked by the teething problems that are always a bi-product of innovation.
Delivering great marketing ideas is harder
If we could bottle the energy that sparks great marketing ideas we would. It’d come in really handy two or three weeks down the line when corporate conservatism kicks back in.
Back in the real world of spreadsheets and long established business process, brave bold marketing ideas can start to look a little risky. Seeds of doubt sprout. There’s a worry that the boldest marketing ideas might actually get noticed, and when they do, critics might come out of the woodwork. Concerns like: “the straplines and the positioning works to a degree, but in reality…(enter some mundane, inward looking red flag like: our main competitor has a widget that does something 2% faster than our our widget), are usually sound indicators that someone, somewhere, wants to tame disruptive ideas.
Don’t get us wrong. All fears are valid. They’ve manifested because the excited sales managers and executives who brainstormed up some brilliant have shared with colleagues and the feedback (often from the co-workers unrepresentative internal viewpoint) hasn’t always been super positive.
This is the precise moment when marketers have a really important choice to make: do we hold onto the bold, disruptive, brilliant idea that got every one focused and fired up just a couple of weeks back (sure we can listen to new concerns and refine things to make the original idea sharper, better and more real), or do we bottle it and just produce more marketing tosh that offends no-one but also fails to excite anyone? Usually it’s easier to just produce more marketing tosh.