The 7 Scariest Things About Marketing

The 7 Scariest Things About Marketing Cowley Associates
Oct 30th, 2014

By Zachary Clark, Account Coordinator

Topic(s) Covered: Advertising

In honor of today being Halloween and all of the scary, spooky grandeur that accompanies it, I decided to put together the 7 things that are the scariest about marketing. Very few feel extremely confident in the marketing methods they’re using, and that only amplifies with content marketing because over 90% of companies are uncertain if they’re even measuring it right (according to Contently). From someone who sees this day in and day out, I see the pale, “I-just-saw-a-ghost” face on many when it comes to marketing. People are terrified, and here are the top 7 reasons I think why:

#1: Marketing is Always Changing

Sit and think for a minute. List out your top three marketing channels you’re currently using. Now, try to predict that list for three years into the future. You can’t, and that’s scary, isn’t it? Marketing can change in an instant (pun intended for Instagram). Google literally does change instantly when it alters its algorithm on a consistent basis. Anything you do digitally is on a constant A/B test and you never know when the next Vine or Twitter is going to come along and you’ll have to rethink everything…again.

As marketers, we’re constantly evolving, adjusting, and modifying what we do because the world around us is continually doing the same. Think about design trends. “Flat” and “minimalism” have always been around, but now it’s everywhere. Constantly being on top of the latest and greatest is a hard thing to do, and people have always been doing it. But, instead of changes in an industry coming every year or month, they’re happening every day, every hour, and every minute we sit here.

#2: It’s Hard to Take Risks 

Taking a risk in anything is hard to do. Whether you’re trying to swim for the first time, you’re getting up in front of a crowd, or you’re just going out and doing something new, risks are difficult. Taking a risk means altering the way you’ve always thought and challenging your conventional wisdoms, and for so many people that is the hardest thing to do. Especially in marketing.

Because not only are you doing something different, you’re letting the whole world see it. You’re leaving yourself open for judgment and humiliation, but what people soon forget is that you’re also opening yourself to greatness and untapped potential. Letting go and taking a risk is so hard, let’s not ever forget it. But, what great person, what great innovation, what great company never took a risk? 

#3: Consumer’s Attention Span

Many have already heard this, but the average human attention span is 8 seconds, while the average attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds. Yes, the goldfish who just floats around, blows bubbles, and will most likely be flushed down the toilet after a couple of months can pay attention longer than most humans can. That’s sad, but it’s the reality we have to deal with. And as marketers, we need to realize that our messages need to be shorter, hit harder, and really get in the face of our target audiences.

Everyone wants to throw everything and the kitchen sink at someone and expect them to read and know exactly what it says. But, in fact you might have time to get one, singular message across. Is it a tagline? Is it a crafty sentence? Is it your website’s URL? Whatever it is, it has to be short, sweet, to the point and simple enough that even a goldfish can understand. 

#4: You’re Forgettable

To piggyback off of consumer’s attention spans, your brand or product can be forgotten. Remember Nokia? Myspace? A-Track? Floppy disks? Yeah, you remember them, but it took a second. There is always a chance that you’ll become an afterthought in the marketplace. Harsh, but a reality.

As marketers, it puts the pressure on us to always innovate and think differently about how we position a product or service because if we don’t, then everyone will forget about us and move on like we didn’t even matter.

#5: People Just Hate Ads

When’s the last time a consumer actually said, “Hey, I just love watching and interacting with ads.” Probably never, unless it’s the Super Bowl where the American society widely accepts an advertisement. But, even then we don’t really like the ads, we like the entertainment value. We like having a giggle at the cute little talking baby, or shedding a tear when a horse reunites with his long lost trainer.

For many, advertisements are spam and something they wish they could do without. But, some people are ignorant and don’t realize that media spending actually pays for the Big Bang Theory cast to make over a $1 million an episode and keep the show running. Advertising and marketing make the world go ‘round, but society doesn’t know that and with the annoying ad that pops up before every YouTube video, they don’t quite care.

#6: Facebook is Killing You 

Remember when a few years ago everyone said, “Oh social media is great advertising, it’s basically free!” And now we can all look back, laugh, and then cry a little inside because we’re spending so much money on “community managers” and “social media gurus” to run our social media accounts. Social media is free to sign up for, but to actually have a quality strategy and create great content to go on the various mediums costs money, resources, and time.

And then to add insult to injury, Facebook decided that it would cut your organic reach of anything you post, so now you have to spend money to reach an audience you already thought was “free.” How terrifying is it that within the next 3-5 years, Facebook might not even be relevant anymore and you’ll have to go master some other trendy website? Things like that almost keep me up at night. 

#7: Dreadful Budget Cuts

The economy is somewhat bouncing back after the housing bubble burst and ensuing recession from several years ago, but things still aren’t quite what they used to be. And, some companies are facing downsizes and budget cuts to control costs of an inflated economy. So, what is many times the first thing to get cut? Ding, ding, the marketing budget! 

Now, marketers are forced to do more with less and becoming creative with how every penny is spent is more crucial than ever. Strategy has become a bigger driver in how decisions are made, and it’s daunting to try and satisfy the needs of your marketing with so many options throughout traditional and digital advertising. Always remember, you need to spend money to make money!
 

I realize that this post might have been a bit of a Debbie Downer to the start of your Halloween weekend, but it’s ok to realize the fears that all of us have for marketing. It is harder than ever to be someone in charge of that department and it is frightening to realize that things change so often. But, it’s also exciting and thrilling to have an opportunity to create things and challenge the way thinking has always been done to make everyone see the world a little differently. We have to take the pluses with the minuses.

Have a happy Halloween!

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