Thursday, 17 December 2015

2016: The Year The "Social Marketing" Bubble Finally Burst

Between Xmas and New Years of 2006-2007  I stood in a small village's market square in central Guatemala watching the real deal:  a guy standing on a soap box in the midst of a crowd of indigenous people holding up a small bottle of oil, extolling it's magical healing powers (and swallowing some to demonstrate how easily it went down).

Watching him and the enthralled crowd as he worked them up to the point that they started digging in their distinctly striped pants pockets for change, I felt nothing but admiration for a vanishing skill (outside of the Shopping Channel).  I had the privilege of witnessing one of the last of the Snake Oil salesmen plying his craft.

Here before me was a real marketer (in an actual market, no less!) who, like the last of the Carney Barkers, could stand up in front of a crowd, 'balls to the wall,' and shamelessly bilk them of their money for something that had no value in terms of what his claims were (outside likely being an excellent enema agent if injected into the actual origin of his bovine excreta...).   Well, not entirely true....the 'medicinal value' he was providing was in bringing hope and entertainment into the lives of remote mountain villagers devoid of much in the way of theatrics.  But upon getting back to Canada a week later, I realized I was mistaken:

Snake Oil Salespeople are very much alive and well in our industry!

My career as a consultant working out how to leverage Marketing Disruption to shift the efforts of national advertisers from 'product marketing' to 'experience marketing' began right then.  (A keynote I created shortly thereafter on 'Shopper Marketing' has been presented to thousands of marketers across North America by Jason Dubroy, turning him into a 'Shopper Marketing Czar'!)

I saw where the media dollars SHOULD be going -- into an effective, but infrequently invested-in medium with astounding ROI  (be forewarned, the 'CPM' will get you thrown out of the CFO's office) -- and I wrote my first keynote on the subject of Conquering Marketing Disruption.   The focus, unsurprisingly, dear reader, was to steer marketers away from the distraction of seductive, but inappropriate media for 'push marketing,' to a much more strategically sound, mixed-media strategy that would see them winning, not losing, the profitable ROI game in this red haze of technological advancement we're living through.   

You've been had, Marketers.  Seriously abused.   Bamboozled.

If you control the marketing budget for a major brand, well, now you have to decide on either the humiliation of the facts coming out at trial, or just keeping quiet about it.  ;-)

Use it or lose it.

The marketing industry was facing a major problem in the mid-2000's that 'got taken care of,' at least temporarily.  Their huge media ATL (that's 'above the line' for the Millennials, meaning:  TV, Radio, Print and Outdoor, versus promotional, PR/CRM, or sales-related efforts) budgets were hemorrhaging into digital (where there was little effectively targeted inventory to buy) and brand managers around the world were dealing with 'use it or lose it' -- spend  up to your previous 'Super Bowl levels,' or see the budgets cut drastically.  Agencies, on both sides of the now divorced (due to the advent of the "Procurement Department" and hence only marginally profitable, also exacerbated by the advent of the dreaded RFP -- see: "Procurement Department" immediately above) creative and media divisions, were being further fractured as they had to cut staff who, with nowhere else to go, started up thousands of new boutique agencies and offered "Will Work For Food."

With the realization that ATL advertising had never actually had any demonstrable ROI and believing that all this new digital stuff apparently was soon going to have SIGNIFICANT, PROVABLE ROI (but wasn't quite fully baked at that moment...), the burning question for marketers was:

Where can we spend all this money we used devote to TV ad placements?!?

Well.  There are many clever, creative people in the ad world.  In the mid to late 2000's some of them were mature and hungry, some were young and hungry, but they all had to make a buck and there were suddenly less bucks to be had beating the dying horse of 'push' advertising on ATL media (unless you still had a job working on the 'too-big-to-change-80-years-of-status-quo' clients at the dinosaur agencies).

There was something new, confusing and mysterious out there, however, and unlike trying to master how digital media is placed, tracked and evaluated, these new 'social media' were pretty easy to figure out how to mess around with.  'Social media optimization' (SMO, akin to it's sister, SEO) soon got a much sexier name: "Social Marketing," and the gold rush was ON!  Virtually overnight "Social Marketing Experts" and agencies materialized by the hundreds ready to capitalize on 'pushing' ads into a space normally reserved for friends and relatives.

I don't blame the marketing masses for jumping on the first exciting new band wagon to pull into town.  The Snake Oil Salespeople were offering to make sense of a confusing barrage of emerging new media and take the pressure off brand management (and many of them are my friends and colleagues, so I'm jousting with no ill will, per se...).  One of the adages of Jon Jerde, the architect of the world's most stunning shopping plazas, made perfect sense:

"People go where people are." 

...and now they're all on social media!

So if lots of people were suddenly spending a lot of time on these new 'social media,' then marketers should be there to interact with them!  The fundamental strategic flaw in this inclination was that all social media are essentially the same as the telephone, and the last time we tried marketing on that medium it turned out to be rather poorly received.  ;-)  Don't get me wrong, telemarketing works for

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Employee 'Disengagement' (Tweeting, FB, gaming, etc.) Costs $500 bn/yr.

Please go to this link for the full article by the authors at Officevibe.


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