In the world of marketing, strategy development gets all the glory. The role of implementing marketing strategies is often considered a menial task (or at least dreadfully boring). Doing tactical work just isn’t as glamorous as developing the knock-your-socks-off strategy behind the work.
But here’s an important reality. Marketing implementation is critical, and it’s something that needs to happen every day. Marketing strategy without implementation will never make sales, influence customers or grow your business. (Similarly, unplanned tactical marketing not based on a sound marketing strategy won’t work, either!)
I believe marketing professionals need to develop more respect for tactical marketing and realize how much creativity, critical thinking and ingenuity this role requires. Personally, there’s nothing I enjoy more than developing a marketing strategy for a client, then implementing that strategy and creating actual results for clients. This full-service marketing approach is truly needed in the marketplace.
Marketing gimmicks give marketing a bad name. The worst form of marketing gimmick is falsely promoting a cause to profit from it. These days, this tactic usually takes the form of “green marketing.” Take, for instance, this “Save the Earth Gum:”
“Buy this gum and save trees.” Yeah, right. Chewing gum and trees have so little to do with one another that this marketing gimmick is obviously ridiculous. (Also, the brand neglects to mention that trees are required to make their cardboard display box, along with the resources required to produce the plastic tubes and labels.)
Even supposed environmental organizations aren’t free from this marketing hypocrisy. At a local event, the Hamilton County Recycling representatives were trying to promote recycling at restaurants and bars… by handing out copious amounts of full-color, double-sided, aqueous-coated business cards. Not only did they avoid printing on recycled paper, but these waterproof cards would take years to decompose in a landfill.
In an attempt to maintain an appealing landscape, the maintenance crew for the EPA office down the street sprayed noxious chemicals through my open car windows. Along with the lungful of chemicals, they were spreading the message that green grass is more important than their mission.
If your business has a core philosophy and set of values, your marketing plan should highlight them and educate your customers. But companies using a thin veneer of popular “values” to hock products won’t succeed at it for very long. Fads are fickle, and customers are growing more skeptical every day.
Some marketing professionals seem to think marketing is all about “pulling one over” on customers with their clever tactics. The trouble with this philosophy (besides being ethically problematic, of course) is that it just doesn’t work. Marketers aren’t smarter than customers, and they can’t trick customers. And sometimes customers are actually smarter than the marketing experts.
My good friend Laura Poland (who is a photographer, not a marketer) recently showed some serious marketing smarts. She told me how she caught on to Covergirl’s marketing tactics. A TV commercial claimed their Outlast Lipstain is the #1 selling lipstain. She speculates, “What is a lipstain? They’ve created a new category! My thinking is they’re the only ‘lipstain.'” She’s not very far off with her analysis. They are number one because they are almost the only one, with few competitors. A quick check of the Covergirl website shows the product isn’t very well-received, either– it only receives 3 of 5 stars from reviewers.
This example of a photographer picking apart a marketing campaign isn’t isolated. Everyday, customers evaluate your marketing messages for trustworthiness and believability. If they catch a whiff of “tactics,” their skepticism will keep them from buying from you. The best approach is to be honest with your marketing and sell a product you are proud to promote.