Why most marketing fails

Belvedere Marketing FailAs the owner of an online marketing company, I get to sit in on a fair number of advertising agency pitches and briefings with our clients. And more often than not, the pitches are a variation on “clever creative spots” or “bold brand ideas”.

It’s not surprising – these things have been marketing agencies’ bread and butter since before Don Draper strapped on his first Brooks Brothers’ suit.

But it is less and less convincing.

The way people buy is changing, marketing needs to change with it


People are changing the way they buy. They’re changing their whole relationship with the purchasing process. Here’s how:

  • It’s an on-demand world now. People – your customers ­– are getting what they want, when they want it from thousands of media channels. They’re skipping and ignoring ads that don’t speak to their specific needs.
  • People are content creators, not just consumers and their channels are often more powerful than yours. Even people who wouldn’t consider themselves “online media publishers” are posting to Facebook, Twitter and Google+ all the time, often about their experiences with companies and products.
  • People are changing the way they buy. They’re researching online more before they ever talk to you. They’re reaching out to friends and colleagues for referrals and recommendations like never before. The average consumer now checks 10.4 sources of info – mostly online – before making a purchase.

Spectacular marketing agency fails

Marketing needs to keep up with these new realities. The old way of reaching people just isn’t working anymore. And most marketing agencies Just. Don’t. Get. It. Heck, most online marketing companies don’t get it.

That’s why we get spectacular fails like the recent Belvedere Vodka rape joke Facebook ad fiasco.

The marketing agency  in this case – and in too many cases – was applying old ways of thinking to the new realities (and this was supposedly a specialist digital marketing agency).

Belvedere and their agency are not alone. There are thousands of marketing fails every year – yours may be one of them – and most of them come from overlooking the driving principles of marketing in an on-demand world.

The last drops of juice from a sad old lemon

Instead, they use the same recipe of creating a bold concept, pushing it on a mass audience to try to drive sales. But to squeeze the last drops of juice out of that sad old lemon, marketers are having to go to more and more extreme tactics to get noticed.

Well, they got noticed all right.

People lit up their social networks talking about how terrible Belvedere Vodka is.  Now when you search on Belvedere Vodka, half the top results are about how terrible Belvedere Vodka is (and that, to be sure, after Belvedere has spent a pantload of money trying to push those negative pages down in the results).

Not exactly what you’d call brand equity.

Next time: Online marketing that really works.