I've got a professional question that keeps bugging me. Maybe it's one you have asked yourself too. When did marketing get so confusing?
As with pretty much every aspect of my life, I asked Google. I actually thought I wouldn't get anything relevant in return with such a basic question. Surprisingly, or perhaps naively, I was wrong.
The top result was published a couple of years ago. Its author places the blame on the head of marketers who "aren’t quite sure what they do" in a changing comms landscape.
I'm not sure I agree with that. What I do agree with is that marketing is not straightforward to explain. And it's got more difficult to plan, budget and execute campaigns. Which leaves me wondering how did a discipline, historically so clear and defined in its aims, become so complex and confusing in its execution. Of course, we can blame the expansion of choice. Choice of channels, choice of technology, choice of formats, choice of metrics for success. With more choice comes more opportunity (good) but also increasing chances to get things wrong and inability to see clearly and get confused (bad).
Then there is the 'language'. With every channel comes a new vocabulary. A different capability to understand, and work out how it fits with the current armory of tools. And the decision of whether to embrace it and try to leverage it or not. So how do we stop falling into the trap of making things over-complicated?
Start the journey at A not Z
In my opinion, the issue could be that marketing as a discipline isn't keeping true to its roots. For all of us industry veterans (17 years and counting for me, but keep that to yourself), the ongoing transformation of recent years has become a catalyst for overcomplicating and losing sight of the most basic, and arguably, critical elements of what we do. How many of us have started a campaign by looking at the channels and assets needed first? Or come up with a topic for a content campaign and then tried to make it work for our audiences? Or started with the current business challenge but jumped straight to the desired outcomes?
I enjoyed the recent blog post by Brian Macreadie on B2B Marketing which covers similar ground. We need to start with our target audience and our message. Then consider all the possibilities available to get that message to that person. To do this we do need to work with channel experts. Otherwise we either don't understand the full possibilities or, worse, we ignore a channel as irrelevant or ineffective. This makes things seem much clearer right?
It's still not easy though. Here at LEWIS we always take the 'no nonsense' approach to our clients' challenges. However, it's hard to avoid jargon in this industry. To demonstrate how easy it is to get confused, we created the LEWIS Marketing Map.
The word 'map' suggests it will help guide you through a journey. Unfortunately, you will probably end up more confused. Take a look. Yep, crazy isn't it? We sit in the middle of an industry with so much to understand in order to make a decision. How many of the 'stations' on our map have you heard of? If you've heard of half of them then you are my new hero!
So, how can this map help you? if like me, you are now looking at your marketing planning and budgets for the rest of the year, the LEWIS Marketing Map can help you identify where you need more support. Or where you are lacking expertise to really understand potential. Or perhaps an area that you have not explored at all. If nothing else, it will open your eyes to how complicated marketing really is. So next time you ask yourself "why is marketing so confusing?" look at our map. Or, even better, get in touch and we can uncomplicate it for you.
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