Are You Engaged in Marketing Malpractice?

I responded to a reporter’s query this week related to best (or I should say worst!) practices in marketing. His question was related to “marketing tactics that don’t work.” I had two initial thoughts about that query:

  • I definitely believe that many of the marketing tactics being deployed today are ineffective—not worth the time or money spent on them and not generating relevant results
  • The reason this is true, though, is not because of the tactic–but because of the strategy, or lack thereof

Making generalizations about marketing tactics that “don’t work,” absent any other information is, I believe, marketing malpractice. In reality, any marketing tactic or tool—traditional or new-age—could be effective. It all depends on the goal/objective and the target audience.

For instance, while many might cite yellow page advertising as a marketing tactic that doesn’t work, the truth is that sometimes it does. Healthcare providers in rural markets, for example, have told me that they still feel it is necessary to include listings in the old traditional “yellow books,” particularly if they’re targeting an older demographic. Plumbers and other emergency-type services have similar perspectives.

On the flip side, Facebook advertising might seem to be the “go-to” spot for most marketers these days, but that’s not necessarily true. B2B marketers, for instance, are increasingly challenged to connect with their audiences via this decidedly “social, social media” tool.

My soapbox continues to be that it’s not about the tool, it’s about the strategy. Good ideas are a dime a dozen—maybe less. Good strategies are hard to find.

I believe that many marketers—in large and small settings and in urban and rural markets—could save a significant amount of money and achieve greater results if they were more strategic about their marketing efforts. This means not following the crowd or adopting the latest technologies and tactics without first clearly understanding their target audience and its consumption patterns around various tactical options.

There are no general, blanket statements that could or should be made about the “best” or the “worst” marketing tactics. On a case-by-case basis, though, there are definitely tactics that are being employed–from both traditional and new media–that are likely a waste of time, effort and money.


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