We can all agree that marketing is a very complex topic, right? When it comes down to managing a business, developing a successful marketing strategy requires a lot of knowledge, a lot of research and a lot of work. Without any of that three key points, no marketer or company can achieve anything. There are no tricks, there are no formulas, there are no universal rules to apply: only guidelines, suggestions and lots of effort.
Yet this, seemingly so agreeable and understandable, sometimes is forgotten by companies, managers and marketers themselves. That leads to the common mistake of thinking that marketing can be reduced to a formula applicable to any and all campaigns, a recipe which will bring satisfactory results just by following it point by point.
Of course, experienced marketers know that there isn’t such thing as a magic marketing wand that can turn any campaign into a success. But since not everyone is familiar with how marketing works, many people trust in so-called professionals that promise quick results for a fee. These are the online marketing gurus, “specialists” that guarantee success through what they call proven methods that have worked time and time again.
Naturally, these gurus position themselves as such and sell their online marketing expertise to small businesses and unsuspecting companies. They prey on the ignorance of digital marketing and what it really entails to survive. They claim to know how to sell because they know how the market works and what people need. And you know what? That’s not possible. Marketing (and digital marketing, specifically) is a dynamic and ever-changing discipline that needs constant updates and continuous research.
Beware of the know-it-alls
Whenever you hear a marketer claim with confidence that he or she knows how to sell anything or can give you immediate results, run into the other direction. This is probably one of the distinctive characteristics of the marketing gurus: they feel that there’s nothing out there they don’t already know. They feel there’s no challenge they can’t beat with the knowledge they already have and the only tools they’re ever going to need is the ones they already own. They already know it all.
Just think for a second about how impossible that sounds. If there actually was a recipe for the flawless marketing strategy, marketers wouldn’t exist. Everybody would be selling successfully anything they want. But that’s not the case, isn’t it? It’s no surprise to learn that marketing a specific product or service requires more than just having all the possible knowledge about it. It’s also necessary to understand the target audience’s needs, its motivations, its behavior and desires.
Those asserting that they know what the market needs and wants are either liars or ignorant wannabes. The only one who knows what the market really wants is the market itself. And that “desire” that drives its behavior is a layered complexity, a multifaceted reality not even its members are able to fully grasp.
And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s another major aspect to think about. Usually gurus are part of a marketing team or are freelance professionals up for hire. They work for companies and brands and, as such, are separated from those companies’ target audiences. Some of you might be thinking “but marketers are consumers as well!”. Certainly. But when they start working in a marketing strategy, they stop being consumers and start being marketers. In that position, they can feel they benefit from their own consumer perspective but their overall perspective may end up being biased – and totally far from what the target audience feels.
An important observation
This doesn’t mean there aren’t thought leaders and expert marketers out there. Thinking that is as wrong as believing the marketing formula perspective. The thing is, those leaders don’t call themselves gurus. In fact, they don’t call themselves anything. They just work, try different methods, analyze data and learn from their mistakes. They become very good at marketing travelling the hardest road – that with a lot of effort.
If the marketing world or their colleagues start seeing them as gurus is because they have proven they understand how marketing works. But that doesn’t happen overnight or because of a natural gift or talent. That comes from constant study and perfection, from keeping on with the latest trends and from the knowledge that you can be the best today but you’ll have to work hard to stay up there tomorrow.
So, keep that in mind next time someone promises to take your business to the infinite and beyond. That kind of talk can feel great and might raise your hopes up but it might end up being just a way to get into your wallet.