Are marketers who embrace these notions cowards?

September 12th, 2017 by Bob Bly

I know instantly whether a potential copywriting client and I are
simpatico just by the marketing terms he or she uses.

For instance, when I hear a client use words like “response” …
“conversion” … “click-through rates” … “break-even” … “results” …
“leads” … “sales” … “selling” … “offer” … “closing” … “call to
action” … or “profits” …

… I know we pray from the same hymnal of direct response.

It’s only when clients use other marketing words that my radar
signals we might not be a good fit.

For instance, it was trendy for a time to say that marketing is
having “conversations” and not selling.

When I wrote about conversations in this e-newsletter, subscriber
WM replied:

“I am a salesman. At the end of the month, my sales manager asks
me how much I sold. If I was to reply, ‘I didn’t sell anything,
but I had a lot of conversations’ — I’d be out on the street.”

I’m not saying conversations are not a valid part of the sales
and marketing process.

But marketers who focus on “conversation” sometimes do so to
avoid revealing that they do not know how to sell.

“Branding” always makes me a bit wary. Yes, it’s also a valid and
often important part of marketing.

But in marketing speak, it’s often code for, “We just position
our product in the marketplace but don’t know how to sell.”

And “brand awareness” is sometimes code for, “I talk about
awareness because it can’t really be measured and therefore I am
shielded from having to produce a result that can be measured,
which would reveal whether my ad is working and profitable.”

For many years, “content” didn’t sit well with me, as I thought
it devalued and positioned writing as a commodity — just as
calling a writer a “word smith” did back in the day.

But content has become an accepted term, and I am good with it
now.

Same with “content marketing,” which we used to call “getting
more leads and sales by giving away free information.”

The title “content marketing strategist” though is a bit
overblown to me, as many (not all) people who call themselves
that essentially just write online articles for clients.

“Impressions” is another term I shy away from. I am not trying to
impress anyone. I am trying to sell them a product or service.

“Likes,” “followers,” and “connections” in social media. Well,
they are valid and measurable, and have some value.

But they are nothing to get excited about, if they are not
driving traffic, converting, and filling up your PayPal or bank
account with money from customer orders.

Any particular marketing terms you like or don’t like? And do you
agree or disagree with my assessment of marketing lingo here?

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2 responses about “Are marketers who embrace these notions cowards?”

  1. John McCabe said:

    Bob, your post is spot on.

    I do have a nit to pick with the term “impressions”, though.

    The definition you used is not the same as the one some marketers use. They define impressions as the number of people who have seen a marketing message, not what the viewer felt about it.

    In that context, more impressions means more chances to get the message out, which should lead to more chances to make the sale.

  2. Matt Hall said:

    A good point about brand awareness. Certain industries – such as higher ed – are built on unmeasurable “brand awareness” activities. Then they wonder why they continue to struggle.

    To add to John’s comment, “impressions” has come to mean any sort of view by a user. An ad viewed by someone once in their Facebook newsfeed counts as an impression – not necessarily when a user clicks or takes any meaningful action.

    Some marketers brag about impressions to clients, but these seem to have the same issue as “brand awareness.” A step on the journey to conversion is seen as the end of the journey in reporting.

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