Stupid Marketing Comments

Every once in a while, I come across a marketing-related claim or statement made in an article, blog post, or tweet that makes me think: “That’s not right!”

Well, hold on. That’s not exactly right.

It doesn’t happen “every once in a while,” it happens all the freaking time.

Keeping track of these stupid marketing comments could be a full-time job. Here are a few that wedged themselves into my field of consciousness over the past two days.

“Mobile Users Click But Don’t Convert”

According to a report from Macquarie Group, search advertisers experience higher click-through-rates (CTR) for mobile phone and tablet search campaigns than for desktop search campaigns. But  mobile conversion rates were at just 31% of the average desktop campaigns’ conversion rates. The study found that the average cost-per-click (CPC) on mobile phone search campaigns was slightly higher than for desktop search campaigns, but that tablet campaigns were slightly lower than desktop search campaign CPCs.

My take: Exactly who do you think “mobile users” are? Aren’t they pretty much the same consumers that use the online channel and tablets? Sure, there may be some consumers who use the mobile channel and don’t use the online channel or tablets, but how big could that segment be?

Not only is it mistaken to conclude that “mobile users click but don’t convert,” it’s not even helpful to point out that CTR or conversion rates differ across channels. Well, not unless you’re comparing apples to apples in terms of the types of campaigns run across channels, and the scope and scale of campaigns.

“Apple spends $5.5 billion on marketing, while Microsoft spends $17 billion. Whose brand is stronger?”

A FastCoDesign blog post claimed that: “The decreasing importance of promotions in a digital economy explains…why Apple can build the world’s leading brand in by devoting only $5.5 billion (out of its 2010 revenue of $65 billion revenue) to sales and marketing, whereas Microsoft spends more than three times as much, $17 billion out of a total revenue of $62 billion and still has a weak, unexciting brand.”

My take: Don’t ever compare what one company spends on marketing to what another company spends. Here’s why:

1) You don’t know what they’re including or excluding in their definition of marketing.

2) One company’s marketing goals and objectives may be very different from another company’s (even a competitor’s) goals and objectives. Apple is a primarily consumer-focused company, while Microsoft is heavily focused on selling to enterprises. The marketing investments necessary to achieve their differing objectives can’t be measured by looking narrowly at their “brand.”

3) At any given point of time, one firm may need to spend more even if everything else was equal. If Microsoft’s only objective was to improve its “weak, unexciting brand,”  then don’t you think they would have to outspend Apple to make up the gap? Of course it would

“Promotion is the one P whose importance is clearly diminishing.”

From the same FastCoDesign blog post, comes this claim, regarding the 4Ps of marketing. Per the blog post: “What is interesting about all these forms of promotion [WOM, SEO] is that they, compared to, say, successful TV ad campaigns from the past, are predicated on the existence of a great product. People only recommend products they feel strongly about. PR is hard without something interesting to say. And a site’s position in Google rankings is based on how many hits it gets, which is a reflection of how valuable and interesting it is. Even paid ad words are structured according to relevance and popularity. The promotions of today are nothing without a great offer to back it up.”

My take: Huh? Can somebody translate that into English for me? While Wikipedia might not be the best site to source here, according to the site, Promotion — in the context of the 4Ps of marketing — refers to “all of the communications that a marketeer may use in the marketplace. Promotion has four distinct elements: advertising, public relations, personal selling and sales promotion.”

Even if you only looked at “promotion” in a narrow sense, when you consider the number of firms using Facebook to run sweepstakes and contests, it’s hard to conclude that the importance of promotion has diminished. 

But in its broader definition, it’s hard for me to understand how anyone could believe that the importance of “all of the communications that a marketer may use in the marketplace” has diminished. With the proliferation of channels and ways to communicate — two-ways — with customers and prospects, promotion has never been more important. 

And even that’s a stupid comment. Because the idea behind the 4Ps is that they’re levers that marketers can pull to influence the demand for their product. Arguing that, in some generic sense, one P has disappeared or diminished doesn’t make any sense. The importance of any one P ebbs and flows and varies by product, company, and economic situation.

———-

If you know anybody willing to pay me to do this full-time, let me know. The number of stupid marketing comments coming down the pike is hard to keep up with.

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One thought on “Stupid Marketing Comments

  1. Ron
    All (self described Markeging Gurus) are simply making things up. When I read such articles I keep hoping that it’s a joke and a punch line is coming.

    By the way, very good note on – there are only one set of customers who happen to use Desktop, Tablet and Mobile based on different usage occasion. This point is lost on most who see anything new as fully incremental.

    -Rags

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