One of the things that annoys me most about marketing blogs is knackered old marketers and fading advertising gurus bleating on about the old days. “There’s no such thing as content,” they say, and, “inbound and outbound marketing are just buzzwords for the same old marketing campaigns.”
This has to stop, and let me be the first to say, with a convert’s zeal, that I believe in content, and that inbound and outbound are useful terms. Though I must say they confuse me a bit, like input and output VAT.
Nevertheless, I confess to enjoying a frisson of Schadenfreude when I read Jason Miller’s piece in The Drum about the Advertising Week Europe event. He debunks three misconstrued axioms of modern marketing thinking and, as far as I’m concerned, three is enough to put everything up for grabs.
All three busted myths are relevant for content marketing, but my favourite is the one about buyers being 60-something percent through their ‘purchasing journey’ before they want to talk to a supplier. It interests me not because it’s been so misrepresented, but because it suggests that there was a time when buyers didn’t behave that way.
I can tell you, because I was there, that buyers always did a lot of research before they got in touch with prospective suppliers. They read magazines, went to exhibitions, and talked to mates in the pub. What’s changed is that magazine readerships have declined and exhibitions aren’t as dominant (and pubs are full of football supporters).
What was once the domain of big publishers has become the domain of vendors, who have to do their own publishing – otherwise known as content marketing.
What Jason Miller’s piece highlights is the fact that the core principles of effective marketing remain unchanged. All the technology and buzzy ideas are no substitute for rigorous critical thinking and a focus on what really matters to the audience. And if you can hear a strange rattling, it’s all those old gurus cheering and banging their sticks on the sides of their bath chairs.
It’s good news for disciplined marketing professionals, because it shifts the emphasis back to proper marketing. You can sail blithely past competitors, who are still juggling glib and glossy tenuous truths as a substitute for effective marketing.
The fact is that people will read long copy, if it’s fresh, relevant and valuable to them. And that the written word is no less powerful than video. And that buyers will only ever be convinced by propositions that deliver genuine value to them, at a price they can afford.
Mind you, if you’re a cheering guru, don’t get too smug. The other eternal truth of marketing is that there were plenty of rubbish campaigns based on fake news back in the good old days too. As Jason Miller says, we’re suckers for hype and fads, and we always were.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for my morning toddy and a wistful perusal of ‘Scientific Advertising’ (Hopkins, 1923).