The Emperor’s New Marketing Plan

The Marketoonist Tom Fishburne hit the nail bang on the head with another of his brilliant cartoons this week. His latest creation highlights the tendency of marketers to follow fads not fashion when it comes to digital marketing.

It’s tempting for marketers to drop everything in favor of the shiny new thing,” suggests Tom. “Our sense-checking isn’t always caught up with our enthusiasm. We risk being caught without our clothes. Or pretending like we see the clothes, when we don’t.” 

[Just in case you don’t know, The Emperor’s New Clothes is the story of an emperor who parades before his subjects in his new clothes. No one dares say that they he is in fact stark naked, for fear of being seen as stupid. Finally, a child cries out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”]

A couple of bits of data back up Tom’s point of view.

First, Mark Ritson recently summarized results from a poll of the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), who represent over £62bn of global ad spend. When asked about the effectiveness of digital advertising, the WFA marketers responded as follows:

% not seeing the value of digital advertising: 45%

% not convinced of the effectiveness of digital advertising: 75%

% thinking marketers have over invested in digital: 72%

However, what happened when these same marketers were asked about their planned investment in digital marketing? Two-thirds of the same sample expect to move more of their marketing money in to digital next year – many by as much as much as 40%.

The second bit of data is the research we did with 100+ marketing directors: over 60% of them said the main driver for using social media was to keep up with marketing trends. Alarmingly, the % of marketers following fashion rather than following the money is the same as it was back in 2012. It seems that companies are no better at measuring effectiveness than they were five years ago.

So, what should marketers do to avoid falling for the trap of ‘The Emperors’s New Marketing Plan’?

1 Follow the money: root your marketing plan on clear brand and business objectives

2 Ignore the hype: cut through the hype and hysteria about digital marketing; be wary of your team using digital channels because they are ‘the latest new thing’.

3 Test & learn: experiment to find the most appropriate digital channels for your brand. I posted here about our brandgym partner Jon Goldstone doing this when he was VP of Marketing at Unilever.

4 Marketing in a digital world: don’t just think about digital marketing; think about marketing in a digital world. The biggest opportunity to leverage digital for your brand may not be advertising or social media at all. A bigger prize might be, for example, using  web and mobile as a route to the consumer, as Domino’s Pizza have done.