Beauty in the Basics: Getting Back to the Bare Bones of Marketing

Business.com / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

With so much focus on which tools can integrate, convert and engage, it seems like marketers have forgotten what they actually do.

Is technology killing marketing?

With so much focus on which tools can integrate, convert, engage, etc., it seems like marketers have forgotten what they actually do.

Sure, technology has become a natural part of life and business, but sometimes it can be blinding to what we are actually attempting to accomplish.

“You're confusing what marketing is about with the tools, channels and feedback loops to do it,” said David Wheldon, President of the World Federation of Advertisers and CMO of RBS Group.

His recent speech at ISBA Conference warned marketers to be careful in putting too much attention on “the digital revolution, social media, technology and big data.”

Related Article: 8 Marketing Trends You Should Know About And How to Use Them

Technology might have the potential to revolutionize marketing, but not if marketers lose sight of what it means to market. Even if you have the GPS system to get to an unfamiliar destination, if you lose the address, you still can’t get there.

Sometimes it’s better to set the smartphone down, step away from the computer and get back to the bare bones of marketing.

As Wheldon points out, online marketing has become a shouting game. Somehow we got to a point where whoever shouts louder wins.

But instead of putting more informative and interesting content into the world, it became cluttered with noise.

To return to the true form of marketing, it’s best to revisit the roots of what it really means to be a marketer. The fundamentals of marketing are fundamental for a reason.

These lessons can remind us, as marketers, to not rely on technology, but to let it enhance our own elbow grease. 

Building Your Brand

Before you play a new game, assemble a piece of furniture or cook a new recipe, you read the instructions.

You try to understand how playing one card, putting one screw in a slot or chopping a single onion fits into the final product before you get started with that task.

Before you can write a blog post, create a tag line or design a campaign logo, you must understand the product or service you are marketing.

To really comprehend the role your offering plays in your industry and in your customer’s lives, it’s important to look at it from all different perspectives.

1. CEO's Perspective

Try to get inside the CEO’s mind to learn why she stands behind the company and what it sells. If there is anyone inside a company who fiercely believes in the value of a product or service, it should be the leader.

Seeing what you are marketing from a top-down view gives insight you probably don’t have.

2. Sales' Perspective

Ask the sales team about the biggest selling points of the product or service. What resonates most with their customers? What do they get the most questions about?

What is the general outlook of the company as a whole? Dealing with all types of customers on a day-to-day basis puts sales in a unique position of understanding what they are selling.

Related Article: A Look Inside: What Will Be the Big Online Marketing Trends for 2016?

3. Customers' Perspective

Don’t just try to understand your customers, view the item you are marketing as one of them. Step back for a moment. Pretend you have never heard of this offering.

Recall your first day on the job. Does anything new jump out as an important feature you might be missing from your marketing information? If so, include it.

Flexing the muscles of empathy and perspective can flip your marketing strategy on its head in a good way. You can only build a brand you understand.

Once you have a firm grasp on your company and what you’re marketing, you can build on the basic ideals you discovered.

Does your product inherently build community, make life or work easier, bring joy to the world? Infuse those simple emotions into everything you create.

Don’t get lost in the message from competitors, industry influencers and customers. Basking in the quiet can lead you to the answers.

Understanding Your Customers

With so much energy concentrated on personalization, no one would ever accuse a marketer of not understanding his customer.

While it’s good to create buyer personas for more accurately targeting customers, flying too close to the sun is dangerous. Leaning too far in to the buyer persona game is blinding and can be limiting.

Of course it’s beneficial to know the demographics and behaviors of your customer. But there comes a point when all the analytics of where they live, what they buy, where and how they spend their time, etc. is overwhelming.

If we only see a 34-year-old working mother who buys organic fruit as a walking persona with a wallet, we forget that she is also a real person who might be concerned about her budget, is annoyed with all those pop-up ads and doesn’t have time for social media.

Don’t get too caught up in your buyer personas and their usefulness will increase. A light-handed persona will guide you to providing content balanced between humanist and promotional approaches.

Limiting Your Message

Marketing has become a ubiquitous industry barraging customers from every platform possible. We’ve even reached a point where customers are becoming immune to content. Many consumers suffer from content shock and avoid content altogether.

There are now 198 million active ad-block users around the world. This cost publishers $22 billion in 2015, which doesn’t bode well for marketers and advertisers that depend on those platforms for sharing their content.

This is a case of relying too heavily on the online nature of marketing. While of course, it would be foolish to exclude any online marketing tools that could increase your reach and conversion rate, it should be used wisely.

Limiting your message with subtle language and straightforward advertising is far more attractive to customers than a flashy campaign.

Simplicity goes a long way in crafting an effective marketing message. Marketing, as many often forget, is about communication not numbers.

Don’t place too much weight on those countless analytics you’re constantly collecting. Sure they can give you a hint of the direction you should be heading, but if you live and die by numbers, you’ll forget the powerful, graceful, important ideas you are using to connect with your customer.

If the list “99 Online Marketing Tools You Won’t Be Able to Live Without” is any indication, marketers have far too many options for making their jobs easier.

Related Article: Is Boring Better? The Case for Plain Jane Online Marketing

While it’s nice to have a social media scheduler or a website analytics tool, too many tools can bog down your whole strategy.

Free yourself of the crowded marketing tools environment. Let a few select tools be your compass for finding your path to success, then forge your own way.

Don’t let that GPS system take you through three left turns when one right turn would have been sufficient.

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