Three lessons in good marketing that Scott Morrison forgot
What can you, as an ordinary businessman, learn from the recent federal election? Things! And we will come back to this shortly, but first for pure personal interest.
I must say that I am relieved that the elections are over. Because I was fed up and now my old job can start to rebuild its tattered reputation. It took a hit, thanks to the whole Scotty From Marketing thing.
I don’t want to introduce politics into a corporate blog. You can read this elsewhere, I don’t want to bore international readers, and you don’t care about my own politics.
Yet, whatever your inclination, Scott Morrison is a product you only buy once. Like Dr Pepper cola or iSnack 2.0, Kraft’s nightmarish Vegemite cream cheese experience. One-time purchases are not the path to a happy and profitable brand.
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Morrison’s user experience really cemented the public impression that people in marketing are all about messaging, not delivery. Spinning catchy slogans and beautiful images to entice you to buy products that will end up disappointing you.
And that’s a shame because decent marketing isn’t nearly as superficial and dodgy as most people think. I’m not a full-time marketing guy now, but I’ve loved my time as a marketing creative, and it’s been fun and profitable to bring that approach to our businesses.
Marketing: A Slightly Embarrassing Career
Yes I know, marketing is not a prestigious profession. Your parents won’t tell their friends you’re in marketing. It’s easy fodder for stand-up comedy routines.
Marketing rarely gets a seat on the board of directors of publicly traded companies next to the adults of finance and law. Because they see us as the people who take pretty pictures. It’s a brutal irony that marketing is the worst part of business when it comes to marketing itself.
“Oh, I’m in marketing.”
“Wow, that’s a coincidence! I am also in marketing!
“Cool, where do you work? »
“Well, I don’t work at a specific location. I’m into (insert repellent multi-level marketing brand name here). Have you ever wanted to be your own boss?
It’s bad enough to have MLM guys trying to lure you into their pyramid at social events. But for them to suggest they do the same as you is the final nail in the coffin.
Yet marketing has plenty to be proud of. This is what generates the margins that most businesses in your business take for granted.
Marketing all the time is not good marketing
At the heart of Morrison’s situation was the belief that everything is a marketing angle. The wisest approach is to shut up, listen to your customers and improve your product. That’s what a good trader would do.
I wrote about this marketing syndrome watching me a few years ago during the height of COVID-19, when Virgin Australia laid off 3,000 employees and gave them each an autographed photo by Richard Branson.
When you focus on marketing messages all the time, even when the situation calls for the exact opposite, people tire of you very quickly.
Here are three things Scotty forgot about marketing that could help your business.
1. Marketing is not promotion
The popular image of marketers since the Mad Men days made announcements. It’s easier to understand and people think you spend all your time doing photo shoots at exotic resorts, hanging out at the pool bar with the models while the crew turns on the lights.
That’s only part of it. I won’t bore you with the four Ps of marketing, but your product is as important as the promotion.
As much as I love writing commercials and a good photo shoot at a resort, as a business owner I’m disgusted by the idea of luring customers in with a clever message and then giving them a shitty experience .
It’s a real carny trickster approach from PT Barnum. It’s great if you move your wagons from town to town in a time when messages traveled by telegram.
It’s amazing that so many scammers still think everything is fine today.
People can see that you’re just saying anything that you think might lead to a quick sale.
Ads work, but the most important element of a brand is reliable delivery. Customers come to you to minimize their risk. It doesn’t have to be the full Rolls Royce experience, but it has to be something they can rely on every time.
2. Marketing is not a one-way mailing
To be good at marketing, you have to be obsessed with what your customers care about. This means talking to them and, more importantly, listening to them. And not just direct questions about your product.
Yes, you need data. There are, however, many ways to interpret the data. If you’re not in direct contact with the people buying from you, you can build all kinds of confirmation bias into your conclusions.
You create candied ideal customers who you think love your product. Outer suburb quiet families and so on. Businesses love a good PowerPoint mythology tribe from their consultancy.
Turns out, if you had listened better, you would know they are buying someone else’s product now.
Listen more. Savvy marketers (and sales) need to become the voice of the customer at high levels, preventing your business from being too disconnected or too greedy.
3. Spend less time watching “the competition”
Business people are naturally competitive and it is tempting to focus on direct competitors. It’s a favorite topic in internal meetings.
When you hear about a customer they’ve let down or their new product that’s taken a dive, you can’t wait to tell your coworkers. You unfold the story like a grand cru, savoring every detail. This is the best of the German compound words: schadenfreude. The pleasure one derives from another person’s misfortune.
When you think like that for decades, you start to believe that your competitors really are as shitty as you want them to be.
- Customers don’t think they’re that bad; and
- You do not notice the arrival of other different competitors. Or you dismiss them as being below industry standards. And one day, they fucked your ass.
Because you weren’t listening and the pattern you always took for granted just changed.
And you, a self-employed businessman, won’t have a generous parliamentary pension to cushion the fall. Be careful there.
This article first appeared on the Undisruptable website. Ian Whitworth’s book Undisruptable: Timeless business truths for thriving in an ever-changing world is now out of Penguin Random House.