5 Surefire Ways to Fail at Marketing

Number one: do what everyone else is doing

Amina Zilic
Aug 25, 2019 · 5 min read
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Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

Looking at marketing from a broad perspective, you can see a very big field filled with so many opportunities. Opportunities that can go right — and more often, can also go wrong.

Marketing is a living matter, and the activities you are trying to deploy should always be aligned with the market needs and desires, not yours. Moreover, marketing is not there to bring gain to you. It is there to bring gain to others.

However, decades of mass marketing activities have put this phenomenon in a position where people don’t trust it anymore. That’s not because of marketing itself, but because people working in that field made it like that. Intrusive ads, talking just to be heard, constant interruption, email abuse, social media rapping, zillions of pop-ups…

All of them saying: please hear me out I have to say something… please click this to help me.

Let’s stop for a minute and think. Does this work for me? Do I enjoy when someone lashes me over with any of these activities? Most probably no. So why would I do that to any other human being?!

Here is how to fail at marketing.

1. Do What Everyone Else Is Doing

Your first day as a marketer at some company, and what you do? Instagram ads, constant social media posts, write just for the sake of writing, sexy visuals without any meaning, lie just to get attention, ads, ads, ads…and why? Because everyone else is doing it.

Copying others is not marketing. Being creative is marketing.

Don’t necessarily do what everyone else is doing. As everyone else, we also like to do research on the Internet and check what other companies do. Accumulating this kind of knowledge is a very good practice. Deploying it doesn't necessarily have to be. While Spotify can invest in big billboards and advertise listening habits of their users and totally nail it, that doesn’t have to mean that it will work for you as well. By the way, Spotify is doing it right. The horror comes when we copy crappy activities just for the sake of doing something. If you ask us why we are doing it, don’t expect an answer soon.

The one thing that separates fruitful marketing activities from the rest is good market/user research. Many people are trying to run away from it, going the easy road and trying to deploy everything they see on the Internet. NO.

Good marketing research gives you deep insights on where you should focus on. Don’t use Facebook if your community doesn’t have Facebook accounts. Rather, analyze your user behavior and market needs and focus on certain entrance points. Don’t cover them all. Cover few and keep nurturing them.

2. Lie

“This is just marketing.”

Many people use this sentence to associate it with lying. When they say “this is just marketing,” it actually means don’t believe them because most probably it is just a lie. They are just making something pretty to get our attention, to trick us, and give us zero value.

If you lie, people will lose trust in you. Marketing is based on trust. If someone doesn't believe in you, how do you think to proceed further?! For short gain purposes, this might work but in the long run, it never does.

Incorporating the Hippocratic Oath (oath of ethics) for marketers wouldn’t be a bad idea also.

A simple promise that all marketers should run with: I will not lie to you and I will not trick you with false promises in order to bring myself gain. I promise that I will do my best to help you and to deliver you a product/service that enriches your life.

3. Be Selfish

Don’t use marketing as a tool to harass people and get something for yourself or for your company. Being a marketer is not that. Being a marketer means giving yo others. It means solving other people’s problems and not yours. By acting selflessly, you will clearly see the desires and needs of others, and your job as a marketer is to meet them. The mantra is: give to others so others can give back to you.

4. Disconnect from others

Marketing is never ever about you. It is always about your customers. Once you disconnect from your customers and serve yourself only, listen only to what you want and meet your desires — I am sorry to say, but you are not doing marketing. You think you are doing it, but actually, you are just full of crap.

Marketing is there to connect with people. Never to disconnect.

During the time when advertising was seen (unfortunately) as the core of marketing, people used ads to show everyone what they wanted them to see. All to get their word out.

To be a marketer means showing people what they desire. It means getting their voice out. Standing in their shoes, making empathy with them, connecting with them and writing/talking on their behalf. Doing that makes you a marketer.

5. Interrupt

Don’t interrupt — listen. Mass marketing is like a toxic habit of interruption. You can see that the other person is talking, but you don’t care that much because, eventually, you will interrupt with what you have to say. Does it resonate? Who cares.

You will send that crappy email at 3 a.m., show a pop-up right away once someone enters your web page, write clickbait articles with hidden advertising agendas, or send a wave of notifications because you desperately want to say something to your customer or because you badly need something from them.

Marketing is more about listening than talking, and this is the main differentiation. Being a marketer doesn't mean that you constantly have to be out there to talk. On the contrary, being a marketer means being there all the time to listen.

And finally…

Do what you think is best for the market.

Don’t expect to see any change if you didn’t change. Change your own mindset. Change your own marketing practices for better. Then, other changes will slowly come along.

Being an honest marketer is a great start.

Better Marketing

Marketing advice & case studies to help you market ethically, authentically, and efficiently.

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