Why Marketing Campaigns Are Stupid

Marketing campaigns from multinational corporations have most of us fooled.

They’ve sown their deceitful messages far and wide.  Messages that tell us we need to make more, buy more, spend more.

Then maybe one day – as long as we do everything we’re supposed to – they tell us we’ll finally be able to fill that keeping-up-with-the-Joneses’-sized hole in our lives that’s been making us miserable.

Except they don’t tell us that it was arguably they who artificially created that “hole” in the first place.

And the Big Day?  The one where we’re supposed to wake up and have everything we could possibly desire?

Well, that day never comes!

Picture a soldier running at boot camp . . . and the sadistic drill sergeant who keeps telling him, “only a few more minutes.”  Only to grin and secretly reset his stopwatch each time it dips close to zero.

Monkey See . . . Monkey Do?

This isn’t an anti-materialist rant.  Not by a long shot.  I like making money as much as the next guy.  And it’s fun to treat yourself to nice things every once in a while.

If you’re reading this, I know you’re smart enough to spot the blatant manipulation that goes on in advertising all the time.

Studying this stuff is a lot like being able to “see the Matrix” when advertisers try to use the media or psychological techniques to convince you to buy something.

What works on the average person doesn’t necessarily work on you.  You’re less susceptible to emotional manipulation.  Which helps you separate what you really want from what “they” want you to want.

Some people in these huge businesses give a damn about morals and ethical selling.  Others don’t.  But most of the time, the second camp “wins” . . . and the ads come off as manipulative or even sleazy.

It’s my belief that things turn out this way because large companies feel like they don’t have any other choice.

They feel the heat from their shareholders.

They aren’t confident their next product launch will be successful.

And they can’t help but notice their competitors sprinkling in a little persuasive “dark arts” of their own . . .

The Plague of the Marketing “Campaign.”

Something predictable happens every time one of these industry titans comes up with a new product.

They dump the majority of their advertising budgets – and thousands of hours of their employees and outside consultants’ time – into launching a giant marketing campaign.

When it’s finally complete, the top brass are impressed.  It’s slick.  It’s clever.  And it gets the message out like nobody’s business.

The campaigns themselves – these focused bursts of promotion – aren’t what I have an issue with.

It’s the marketing campaigns “culture” that makes me gripe.

“I’ll just design a product then market the heck out of it when it’s finished.”

Huh?  Why has the idea of “marketing” become something that’s tacked on at the very end?  Why is this perspective so pervasive?  Why is “marketing” seen as a discrete event separate from everything else in your business?

Fight the Cause, Not the Symptoms!

When we’re just starting out in business (and even after we’ve been in the game for years), it’s easy to look towards the most successful companies for guidance.

After all, there’s no blueprint to build a successful business.  Modeling your behavior after larger, more profitable competitors (or hopeful eventual competitors) is the smart thing to do to save yourself years of wasted time.  Success leaves clues.

But that doesn’t mean you should model everything these companies do.  If you try, you’ll fail miserably.

You’ll fail because: 1) you’ll never reach their level trying to replicate their brands . . . you need to build a story of your own; and 2) trying to copy their methods with access to only a limited amount of information is a recipe for disaster.

If you try to mirror Apple’s marketing strategy, it’s easy to notice their massive marketing campaigns.  They want you to see those!  But you can’t see everything that went on “behind the scenes” before that campaign was launched.

You don’t get a peek at all the focus groups, beta testing, and boardroom heartache that happened first.

First Things First . . .

In light of this imperfect guidance from the most successful companies, how do you improve your marketing?

First things first.  You stop seeing “marketing” as a series of discrete campaigns, and you start viewing it as a prolonged war.

In a war, you don’t make your preparations and preliminary moves first and worry about the fighting part later.

Can you imagine Napoleon Bonaparte ordering around his troops with all the capriciousness of a Parisian mademoiselle ?  And not worrying about it because he’d “figure out the battle part” later?

marketing campaigns

Don’t worry boys . . . I’ll figure it out later!

The very thought is ridiculous!

True genius abides by Sun Tzu’s timeless wisdom: Ultimate excellence lies not in winning every battle, but in defeating the enemy without ever fighting.”

In other words . . . the devil’s in the details.  And preparation makes all the difference.

The same goes for marketing.  Every move – every preparation from beginning to end – should be made with the end goal of successfully selling your product or service to thousands of eager fans in mind.

Marketing is the hub of your business.  It should guide your decisions about niche selection, product development, and how you structure your advertising campaigns.

The sooner you recognize that – and the sooner you start consciously thinking about marketing in your business process – the better off you’ll be.

Marketing is a never-ending process, not a discrete event.  It sticks with your business whether you want it to or not.  It’s the hub of your business, not a spoke you can worry about later.

Worry now, roll in cash later.

P.S.  I’m curious about how you incorporate marketing early on in your business process.  Leave me a comment and let me know.