With the rapid evolution in marketing technology, today’s B2B marketers have become overly obsessed with finding the next big thing. Unfortunately, the next big thing often turns out to be nothing. Here are some of today’s top marketing trends and my curmudgeonly take on each.
1. Blogs. A columnist in a computer magazine once wrote that the best thing about the Internet is that anyone can post to it, and the worst thing about the Internet is that anyone can post to it.
I used to watch the show Dexter’s Laboratory on the Cartoon Network with my kids. In one episode, when Dexter’s mother is talking incessantly on the phone, his father rips the phone out of the wall and proclaims, “I can’t stand another minute of this mindless gab!” That pretty much sums up my feelings about blogs.
There are some blogs that are well thought out and compellingly written. But those are a minority. Most blogs are, at best, content pollution – a lot of jibber jabber.
2. QR codes. Another hot marketing trend today is to plaster QR codes on everything from postcards to product packaging. I would feel more enthusiastic about this marketing tactic if I owned a smart phone, which I don’t. Certainly I see the convenience for road warriors. But for those of us who aren’t mobile and stay at our desks, I’d just as soon enter a URL in my browser or call a toll-free number.
3. Mobile marketing. Again, I don’t have the capacity to appreciate any sort of mobile marketing, because I never go anywhere and therefore don’t carry a cell phone. But clearly, I am part of a primitive minority: according to Mobile Marketing Asia, more than 5 billion people own a smart phone.
I’ve tried them, and I don’t see why anyone would prefer a smart phone over a laptop or desktop PC for viewing e-mails and web pages. But that’s just me.
4. Twitter. A marketing magazine that competes with Target Marketing ran an article criticizing Trojan because the brand hadn’t tweeted in a year. My response is that Trojan may have instead been doing e-mail marketing, landing pages, banner ads, and other things that actually generate a measurable ROI.
5. LinkedIn. The idea of LinkedIn is networking online and making connections. That’s probably a good idea. But a better alternative is to get prospects to come to you, rather than you go to them. You can do this by positioning yourself or your company as a recognized expert in your industry. Some of the methods that can help you achieve a reputation as an expert including giving talks at industry events, webinars, white papers, and writing articles.
6. Facebook. A number of marketers who tried Facebook ads have confided in me their limited results. Facebook strikes me as a playground for people, like my wife, who like to noodle around online for fun. I am sure some of my readers will e-mail me to the contrary, and I look forward to learning how to make money on Facebook, something I have been unable to do thus far.
7. SEO. Search engine optimization is a marketing trend that has been around awhile, and it is one I wholly agree with. Copywriters and other content writers must learn key word research, SEO copywriting, and meta tags. Coming up on the first page of the Google SERP (search engine results page) can generate significant traffic for you at no direct cost.
8. Content marketing. Several things irritate me about modern content marketing. The main one is that marketing gurus today think they invented the concept, when actually, we’ve been marketing with content for decades; we just never called it “content.”
In 1980, I took a job as the advertising management of a firm that manufactured something called “trays” – metal plates that were placed in refinery towers to help separate crude oil into kerosene, gasoline, diesel, heating oil, and other petroleum-based products.
To ensure that engineers designed towers using our trays, we put out a thick spiral-bound guide called the Tray Manual. It cost over $5 a copy to print – a significant sum back then – but it was a huge hit with our prospects – engineers. And it sold a lot of trays. We were doing content marketing, only we didn’t know it.
Another minor pet peeve of mine is that I think the title “content strategist” is overblown. If you come up with ideas for articles and then write them, you are a writer, not a strategist. Someone who creates the marketing plan for the product – now that’s a strategist. Content strategists: get over yourself.
9. Video. Generation X and Y marketers act as if they invented video. They didn’t. At my first job out of college, as a junior marketing manager at Westinghouse, I made plenty of videos of our radars and other electronic systems in operation. Today you can shoot a credible video using your phone, amazing as that is to me. Back then, we were just making the transition from 16 mm film to videotape. Video and still photography were both considered a craft in those days. Today the attitude is that anybody can do them.
10. Powerpoint. When PowerPoint first came out, I hated it. I even wrote an article for a trade publication (not this one) saying that PowerPoint presentations were inherently boring and sleep-inducing.
After giving dozens of presentations using PowerPoint, I am a convert. It’s an easy tool to use and, done right, PowerPoint slides can greatly enhance the effectiveness of a presentation. The main mistake marketers make is cramming too much information on a single slide. Countless times I have heard a speaker say, “Now I know this slide is hard to read.” If it’s hard to read, why not spread the information across several slides that are easy to read?
About the author:
Bob Bly is a freelance copywriter and the author of more than 75 books including The White Paper Marketing Handbook (Racom). You can find him on the Web at www.bly.com, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone 201-505-9451.