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Marketing is marketing no matter what you call it

marketing is marketing

My head always turns when I hear about the next big marketing trend.

Since the advent of the internet, folks have become opportunistic about how to create new ways for brands to connect with consumers, but not all these creative ways are driven by experienced marketers.

A seasoned marketer knows the successful foundation of marketing strategy is made up of the 4P’s of marketing. Product. Price. Place. Promotion.

No matter how fancy we want to get, every single marketing strategy, ad placement, social media meme, you name it, is foundationally based in these 4P’s. Or should be, anyway.

Over the last 10 years, we’ve seen the evolution of “digital marketers,” some of which haven’t received the education or training on marketing strategy, or haven’t gained the needed real-world experience of being a marketer in the traditional workplace. While some of these digital marketers have the right schooling and training on marketing strategy, others don’t. These others are creating noise for their brands, but that doesn’t mean that noise is anything meaningful.

So… do they know they’re even doing it?!

I don’t think they do. I think there’s a generation of marketers who just go and instinctively do today. And while they’re doing, a few may have natural born marketing instincts that inspire some great campaigns, ideas, and creative all without having formal training. Then there are those who don’t. Those that aren’t familiar with the building blocks of marketing or how to assemble them. The folks that create spiffy language to sell something – they just haven’t really identified what that something is. But is this really marketing?

Samuel Scott explores this in his new piece for TechCrunch. He focuses specifically on tech companies; because of their fast-paced environments and big financial expectations, many times they upstaff their organizations with young professionals with big ideas to accelerate getting their brands to market. They’ve separated their marketing groups, giving their digital marketers carte blanche to swelling budgets, while eliminating any checks and balances with the marketers in the room who’ve successfully managed traditional efforts. Worse yet, they may have eliminated any traditional marketers from their organizations all together.

True digital marketers and traditional marketers are doing the same thing. But digital marketers are using newer channels to promote their messages.

The basics remain: you have to use key marketing principles to create successful marketing deliverables.

The challenge with many of today’s digital marketers is that they are spending energy and time, and often either their investors’ or their clients’ money, on tactics that aren’t powered by marketing strategy. They may drive real-time attention but often lack long-term effects for their or their clients’ brands; marketing strategy based in the 4P’s, however, can create more long-term engagement and ongoing impact.

So how do we turn this around? We have to encourage the leadership in companies to understand true marketing and how to build a marketing team that can support the organizational goals. And for those folks who are already in marketing roles without the right knowledge to have longstanding impact? We have to train them with the tools to take their sometimes brilliant in-this-moment or this-could-go-viral or you-know-what-we-should-do ideas and power them with strategy, messaging and creative that aligns with the goals of the company (brand, sales and otherwise). Then these marketers can take their tactics to whatever channel they want to – print, television, digital.

You have to know your product. You have to know your audience. You have to know their motivators. You have to know the brand.

What this culmination will create is messaging that resonates. No matter the medium used to deliver it.

As Scott points out: Marketing has always been the creation of a message, the insertion of that message into a piece of content and the transmission of that content over a channel to an audience in an effort to build brands, increase demand and move people down sales funnels. The same is true today — the only difference is that we have two additional sets of available channels, called the internet and mobile devices, and those channels allow for a greater variety of content formats.

Truth bomb.

We need to stop segregating traditional and digital marketing. It’s all marketing, delivered via various channels, some of which are digital.

It’s why we like to look at our clients’ brands holistically. We want to understand their goals, their audiences and where those audiences like to consume messaging. Then we get to work.

When I hear about the latest and greatest in marketing trends, I feel compelled to do a gut-check, to ensure we’re guiding our clients towards creative that’s true to the traditional marketing tactics and their goals. Can we get creative with those tactics? You bet. Can we deliver them in nontraditional media? Absolutely. But it all comes back to knowing our clients’ brands, their products, and their audiences – it comes back to creating something that lets the research and strategy do their job.