The 3 big marketing fallacies for 2013

The start of each year is always accompanied by a rush from everyone to make their predictions for the next 12 months. While I’ve obviously got my own thoughts on the subject, I thought I’d do something different. My good friend Jonathan MacDonald has used Fallacies as a theme of sorts for a few years now, so in the creative spirit, I’m adopting the idea with the 3 big marketing fallacies which all businesses need to overcome.

Having worked with a huge range of brands and clients over the years, there are certain issues and concerns which I know will increase in regularity over the next 12 months. So identifying and tackling them now as part of your strategy for 2013 will be key in having a successful year with less problems.

 

2013 Marketing Fallacy 1: Content Quantity not quality:

The recognition of how content has become increasingly important, and the rise of content marketing is a good thing for various reasons. Content has always been vital to the success of a business since the rise of print and broadcast media, and the internet has only increased this need.

But almost inevitably I predict companies will invest in large amounts of content, either internally, or from external suppliers who are able to churn out copy, images and audio at bargain prices. And 12 months later will look at the time, effort and cost with little resulting success.

The reason is simple. More content has already been published online than previously in the history of human existence. None of us are short of things to watch, read, play or hear. Most of us will have returned from Christmas with a backlog of emails, RSS feeds, and podcasts, having finally caught up over the holidays on the Tivo’d and DVR’d films and TV shows which we’d been meaning to watch for weeks and months. And now every brand is going to be pumping out an endless stream of content marketing to add to the noise level.

Although it’s certainly possible that many businesses could increase the amount of published content, the priority should be to first develop an effective content strategy and improve the quality of what is already being produced. One amazing piece of content will be far more effective in building a brand and converting readers to customers than five pieces of generic filler material.

It’s why we focus on how content most effectively fits with a business, and on the most effective strategy as a starting point, and it’s also why we provide quality outsourced content to clients. Our work needs to be the best for us to be a sustainable business – reselling the cheapest writers we can find around the internet will soon lead to disappointment for all involved.

 

2013 Marketing Fallacy 2: We need more Facebook/Twitter/etc

This could have been published at any time in the last 5 years, but still holds true. It’s particularly important for those businesses still entering digital marketing, or those who don’t look at the attribution model for sales/enquiries in enough detail.

The most important website to optimise for digital marketing and sales is your own. It’s the only location where you have complete control over look, feel, layout and content, and can create the ultimate site for your business. It’s also a place which can be backed up effectively, and can be easily publicised and advertised without relying on a third party brand.

I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t include the right social media outlets in your digital marketing. As someone who provides social media marketing and consultancy, I firmly believe that the relevant third party platforms are essential for a modern business. But they should be part of the ‘hub and spoke’ model which has often been discussed – your website at the centre, and third party platforms operating as the spokes to reach people in the locations they currently enjoy.

If all your traffic comes from any single source – search, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc – then you’re completely at the mercy of that platform and any changes they make. Whether it’s Facebook reducing the reach of Page updates, Twitter falling out with Instagram, or the acquisition of Posterous, you’ll have built your business on ground which can be shakey or indeed disappear completely if the service closes.

 

2013 Marketing Fallacy 3: It’s all too much

With search, social, newsletters, analytics and more to manage, it’s no surprise that digital marketing can become somewhat overwhelming. Marketing has always had a variety of demands and inputs, but the rapid changes enabled by the internet can mean that everything starts to pile up very quickly.

The result is that small businesses feel that they can’t compete, and large businesses quickly end up making mistakes due to a confused sprawling mess of accounts and responsibilities.

Hence why the strategy and planning is so important to effective digital marketing. A small company with limited resource has a great opportunity to compete on a comparatively level playing field compared to the costs of a national TV advertising campaign, for example, but needs to be laser-focused to use those resources most effectively. Meanwhile a larger business needs just as much clarity in order to co-ordinate a larger range of initiatives. And both need to plan for their efforts to constantly evolve even throughout the space of just 12 months as platforms and priorities change.

A good strategy should enable you to focus on the key areas of your digital marketing, with time and resource built-in for experimentation, evolution and learning to give you a good platform for this year, and for the future.

How the ‘traditional’ world punishes social networking

If you’re familiar with social networking it can be easy to scoff at the latest report of the non-digital native world failing to understand the benefits of the connected world. But sometimes, being ahead of the curve can carry a cost.

A U.S. University Professor was recently suspended because of a Facebook status update on what was intended to be a private page for family and friends. Similarly in the UK, a joke on Twitter led to an arrest under the Terror Act and a lifetime ban from an airport. And in a related privacy matter, a school appears to have been using anti-theft software on laptops issued to students to spy on them.

But all of these might appear to be isolated cases against individuals or small groups – and some might argue that publishing anything remotely contraversial is foolish, even in jest, on a public platform, whatever your privacy settings – and events like this one don’t help.

But there are far more insiduous happenings taking place which can affect all of us – how would you feel about the fact that Facebook and Twitter Usage Could Raise Your Home Insurance Premium by 10%?

Or that banks are mining social media sites for personal information which can affect your credit score?

You can argue that telling the world about your location, or revealing any financial information justifies the data collection – although the suggestion that some Facebook application exist purely to collect this data surreptitiously has to be somewhat alarming.

But given that social media and social networking is so new and quickly evolving, and that there’s no proof that mentioning your location, your new purchase, or joking about your future actions has any relation to reality, it’s important to remember that traditional institutions still have the tendency to believe anything published as factual evidence. Even as half the UK population converses via Facebook, it appears we’re all still cast into the role of rebels on the fringes of society who need to be aware of laws, regulations and risks that haven’t moved anywhere near as quickly as they should in the face of the ever-increasing rate of change.

The problem isn’t that the world can’t move quickly enough to build a logical framework which facilitates individuals, businesses and governments to a reasonable level – the problem appears to be that none of the people in a position to do it have the knowledge/incitement to bother, and so we’re left with a legion of the internet-enabled complaining about the inability of the internet-challenged to wield power correctly.

The question is what will you do about it?