In the last 30 years, the technology of marketing communication has changed but the principles of reaching an audience or marketing truths are the same as they ever were. It’s still a battle for eyeballs and for what used to be called “share of wallet.”
Here are some basic truths about marketing that can be chiseled in stone.
1. You are not your customer
Whether you would like your product or not is irrelevant. Of course, you think it’s great and that everybody just naturally wants it. That’s untrue.
2. Brands are sacred
Nobody will care more about preserving your brand than you do… not your employees, not your vendors, not your customers. Treat every teeny element of your brand like a perfect gem. No part of it should be negotiable or trivial.
3. Marketing takes time
You will be sick of your campaign long before the public has even noticed. Stick with it; if it’s working, why stop? If you don’t know whether it’s working, why spend time and money on something else you’re not going to measure?
4. Repetition is good
Repeat: repetition is good. Depending on which study you read, your target — assuming you’ve identified the right one — has to see a things three to seven times before really noticing. Running something once is a wasted effort.
5. Nobody owes you a living
If whatever you’re promoting doesn’t answer this question for the viewer, “What’s in it for me?”… you have failed. There is no reason to do business with — or donate money to — an organization that doesn’t operate that way.
6. Good design beats bad design every time
Go out with an ugly blog, direct mail piece, email marketing campaign or business card and you’ll send the message that whatever you are promoting is chintzy. Your nephew may be creative, but hire a pro.
7. Writing is really, really important
Proper spelling and grammar are not optional and errors indicate laziness and/or ignorance. If your audience happens to be lazy, ignorant people, you’ll be fine… although they tend not to have as much disposable income to spend on what you’re selling.
8. You don’t have to say everything
Have a single focus. When you write anything (even a tweet), look at it before sending and decide what you can leave out. The more you put in, the less will be absorbed. This is marketing, not a Russian novel.
9. Pictures work better than words
Get good ones. If you can’t afford the fancy photo shoot, at least get good stock photos. Whatever you pay will be worth it. Hire someone with a design sense to manage your image library; have a system.
10. White space is a good thing
Don’t feel the need to fill it, because what’s not there leads the eye to what is there. White space is a powerful tool; don’t muck it up.
11. Tech is here to stay
Yes, the daily learning curves are not that much fun. Sorry. By the way, there was a different — and equally difficult to master — set of technical requirements before the internet.
12. Marketing is not for kids
Ad agencies are heavy up on twenty-something account execs and bosses hand off management of web content and social media to the first intern they meet in the hall. Marketing is a long-term game; turning it over to someone simply because they are young and willing to work insane hours for no money is not a good idea.
The basics of marketing in the digital age are the same as in the pre-digital age. Strategy, knowledge of what moves the target to act, a long-term view, and excellence in execution are still the foundations of effective marketing. This is truth.