Brand Management, Content Marketing, Event Marketing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing ROI, Social Media, Uncategorized

Rant on Marketing while boarding an airplane

– “So, tell me, do we have any cool new marketing campaigns upcoming?”, a fellow European colleague asked me, while we were getting ready to board our ride from San Francisco back to Amsterdam earlier today. He is one of our best technical sales engineers.

– “What do you mean when you say ‘marketing campaign’?”, I asked in return.

– “Well, you know,” he replied, “with solid price promotions, lots of advertising, events, online banners, emails, that kind of stuff – marketing campaigns!”

– “I don’t think we’ll have those types of marketing campaigns ever again,” I said.

– He: “Are you serious? So what’s marketing doing to get new customers signed up, and develop them into loyal, frequently spending accounts – if not by running cool campaigns?”

– I: “Well for one, we’ll stop shouting at them, pushing them around, pulling them in by the hair kicking and screaming. We’ll be talking to them where they are, when they’re ready to engage, delivering the right messages for that very specific person, place, time, business challenge, and conversation. To show them we understand their world, and that we’re the ones best suited to help them solve their problems.”

– “Okay! But how will they ever know that you’re the one to talk to about their pains and itches? You’d still need a conversation starter, wouldn’t you? Something to get the engagement going, like an event, email, or telephone call? Isn’t that what marketing is?

– “No, that’s not what marketing is, that’s what marketing has been turned into by people who think customers are cash cows with short memory spans. Marketing proper represents markets, customers and prospects within the company, making sure the right products and services are created, delivered, supported, and constantly improved in order to create maximum customer value and brand equity.”

– “…”

– “You see, Marketing proper drives and advocates business focus, high quality content and engagements, two way communications, and actual listening to customers and prospects. That has little to do with fancy events, bulky billboards, and unsollicited emails, don’t you agree?”

– “Uh, yeah sure, if you say so. But I bet the sales guys would disagree. They love fancy events!”

– “By no means. They’re sales guys, so this is core to their everyday reality. They grasp the value of a good conversation. They understand that high quality engagements eventually result in extended customer life cycles, deeper investment, and greater customer loyalty. They know this approach will pay off. And apropos: The days that high value conversations where taking place at industry events, have long gone. Event marketing in the B2B segment has become a business in and of its own, one which is delivering ever lower show rates and returns on investment. It’s an old school, zero conversion marketing tactic, and smart sales guys know this. Even they stopped showing up to man our stand!”

This is where we boarded our plane, and I started writing this entry.

What do you think Marketing should aspire to?

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2 thoughts on “Rant on Marketing while boarding an airplane

  1. Jan-Willem says:

    Good conversation to have just before boarding a plane. I agree with the slowing number of tradeshow participants. We see it every time we get confronted with a sponsorship…however, I do believe there is a way to can make these sponsorships work for you (btw in general I feel tradeshows are a huge drain on marketing hc and budget resources in it’s current form). It has everything to do with planning and connecting. Normally activities are viewed as stand-alone, linear approaches to reach our target audiences. As a result, at best, participation at a trade show has a short pre and post event flow. Hopefully with the messaging at the show which support the overall go-to-market value props. But that’s it. Events like these start to become more value add if they are approached from the target audience perspective first (yes I know we all say we focus on target audience, reality is it most of the times comes after activity selection…) and then plot and connect the activities to support moving the target through their buyers journey. If you do this well you will tend to see people joiing your booth at the show who have engaged with you already, have a fair knowledge and know what they want from you. If you play it really well, you also know what they want from you and can engage with them in meaningful conversations with value add for both the customer/prospect and the sales person. Without the need to have a booth manager ‘stir things up’.

    • Hi Jan-Willem, thanks for sharing, and I do agree. But in many organisations (and I welcome all readers to weigh in and share their experience for IT or other industry events) events are just part of the marketing mix because they are part of the marketing mix because… because… because… well, because basically all competitors have it as part of their marketing mix, which is beyond logics. Event Marketing has become a massive, self-sustaining business. Nobody really worries too much about the actual, factual return on (the consistently humongous) investment (in time and money). It’s a significant drain on resources, and we just stopped asking for results along the way. So, integrated, targeted events with a clear marketing and sales goal: YES; all events without definite, confirmed ROI analyses: NO – NO – NO.

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