Evil digital buzzwords

At times, it may seem that marketing is changing so quickly that what was true yesterday is no longer true today. However, it is really just an illusion. The same way the television or radio are not dead, neither is the consumer of 50+ of age – on the contrary, they are getting stronger and the disproportion between their purchasing power and their use for targeting advertising campaigns is getting weaker. Neither consumption habits nor patterns of buying behavior have died, nor have they fundamentally changed in many respects. The Top Four Dumb buzzwords came into the selection.


Building your marketing strategy on the principle of digital first is like the first page of a detective story to reveal who the killer is. Instead of the word “digital”, mobile, social media and the likes can be less or more confusingly installed.

The choice of strategy and channel occurs only after you have decided which segment you target within the market you operate in and what your brand's position is against the target segment. An honest marketer will first find out what the situation is in a given market/category and if the skeleton is hidden in the supply-side closet. Subsequently, through research, the marketer identifies how a company or brand stands within a given category; prepares a marketing strategy in which he/she decides on what segment will he/she target and how the brand stands against the selected segment. Finally, he/she quantifies marketing goals, an example of a nicely set goal is to increase Brand preferences by 15% in the biomother segment by Q3 2020 and to match it with an estimated increment in sales. Ultimately, the time comes to decide whether and what ad platforms on Google or Facebook will you use.

Jumping on all the new and sparkly is exactly what advertising, in the newspeak parlance “technology”, giants want from the advertisers, but it often has nothing to do with what companies/brands really need.

The strategy, as a result, should be quite simply explainable for non-marketers. However, this does not change the need to make considerable efforts in its creation. The effectiveness of marketing communication, unfortunately, is dropping steadily and dividing communication on digital and non-digital contributes to this. As evidenced by the annual Effie show, the most successful campaigns are those integrated ones, which are based on a marketing strategy.


Communication is just one of the components of marketing, and very often the least important one. If you have a quality product, the customer has no problem to get it, and at a price corresponding to quality, quite possibly with no communication bypass. Sure, with good advertising, it will go faster and you will outperform the business plan, but if communication is to compensate for the non-competitive component of the product/price/distribution, you'd better sharpen up. Someone who identifies themselves as a marketing specialist should be able to alert you to any shortcomings and work with them. However, it often happens that when you show your problem to a digital specialist, they suggest you campaigns in Google Ads. If you show the same thing to a social media specialist, they suggest addressing it via Facebook.

Usually, everyone considers themselves a marketing specialist, but not one usually understands anything beyond the servicing of their learned advertising platform. Communication will not save you and if product, price or distribution are getting jammed, the last thing the company needs is communication. Too much attention is being paid to debate over formats and channels. If someone describes themselves as a strategist and with a proud pre-label Digital, Social Media, SEO or PPC, there is no solution to the problem in sight.

So should companies ignore digital advertising? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It depends on a lot of things that digital specialists don't know they don't know. In presentations from Facebook and Google, they simply don't know much else, and it's often their only marketing awareness. If business doesn't go as planned, communication and digital advertising may not help.


Customers do not have an emotional relationship with brands and do not create romantic ideas about them. The vast majority of consumers don't care about brands, and if a majority ceased to exist over night, only 19% of consumers would mind.

Even those brands that are considered to be lovebrands, tend to have a low proportion of their sales generated by  the most loyal group of customers. Byron Sharp reports that for the Harley Davidson brand it is less than 10%. The level of loyalty to the brand is then much more significantly linked to market penetration, the larger the market share, the greater the loyalty to the brand. The emotional attachment to the brand didn't change much about the results. The excess of communication activity towards heavy buyers and the neglect of communication towards non-customers then leads to a falling market share.

A classic example of an inappropriate approach to targeting is reaching out to fans on your Facebook page for engagement, which has been refuted many times by Facebook itself.

A strong brand is among the most important goals of and for every marketer and the ultimate mission of advertising is creating strong brands. However, you need to keep your feet firmly on the ground and not to create irrational ideas about the behavior and motivations of customers. Each brand should strive to achieve the highest possible values in standardized brand metrics. Anything beyond that belongs in the realm of illusions.


ROI is a metric that gives a nice picture of efficiency. But, as a rule, it provides a poor idea of the effectiveness of marketing endeavors. In terms of approaches, the ROI is equivalent of performance marketing, which generates quick results, gives an illusion of cheapening of the marketing investment, and creates the impression that funds are invested efficiently. Unfortunately, this is only true in the short term. In the long run, both an over-oriented ROI metric and performance marketing are both highways to hell. As anywhere else, a quick and easy way is usually the least suitable. Deciding purely on the basis of ROI metrics leads to short-term goals that will destroy the company and the brand, in the long run.

Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?

Byron Sharp compared the situation in marketing to medicine in the Middle Ages – bloodletting had been a common practice for several centuries. Similarly, today in marketing, practices that do not rely on empirical knowledge are tested, and in the field there are active people who do harm to it and actually do not even have the qualifications for the performance of the profession. On the other hand, companies that don't pop up on buzzwords, understand the marketing craft, and don't get themselves bamboozled, get even better results then. And that's not a bad vision.

When marketing is a cost centre

Or how the marketers became paper salesmen and the key competences on the company direction took over their colleagues from other disciplines.

It happens to the more experienced, too, that we let ourselves manoeuvre into the situation in which we talk about a marketing budget long before it can be  defined how much our funny colleagues-marketers contribute to our business target. It originates from the times not long gone when some marketers could dream as they liked, as they had a very little say in key decision making, and every penny, they wished to use to prepare a dinner for key customers, photo shoot or PPC campaign, had to lengthily argue over with the real management.

Transition to zero-based budgeting is stressing, in any case. To wake up one day to find out there isnt a penny for marketing available. No allocated budget with comfortable cushion for four decent campaign and few small ones. Along with a continual budget for social networks, PPC, graphics, copyrights, CMS, radio and something for smaller productions. And suddenly not a penny more. At least, one can only blame themselves. Finally, to take the plunge and make a long postponed resolution lying in ones head come true. Also to smash this idea of some colleagues that the company could thrive and grow, even if there were no Facebook, Instagram, Adwords or YouTube.

And outright count with the fact that like all ambitious plans, not all can be done in time, originally dedicated to it. You know, to get the key people from all departments together at company parties and what more, to provoke a little bit of activity in them is no fun. It will happen, after all, in days or more likely in weeks later. By that time, not only a larger part of company roughly knows, but also believes that the marketing has actually quite crucial relevance for companys functioning. Still, a primary goal is something slightly different. The primary goal is start investing money into the marketing, not spending. In short, to know very well which marketing activity contributes to the business targets which originate from the companys get-togethers. To plan campaigns with a clear awareness of what leads where and what sense it makes. To define not just in outlines, but with full knowledge of what marketing activity can help the brand metrics, how these brand metrics will in a long-term plan transform into the business results. To establish, along with this all, what marketing channels one uses and what value for money ratio one achieves.

Everyone somewhat guesses how did we get to beforehand planned marketing budgets, back then. Like with many other things, it all comes to the mental laziness, comfiness and laziness, again. To change things, you know, when they work has been always tricky. On the other hand, this is the way how the marketing department becomes a cost centre in the eyes of people from other departments. A centre that delivers on average, consuming resources above average.

And even if we wouldn't mind it for some time, we would find it a little bit sad if  we suddenly found ourselves being unwanted, quietly tolerated and sadly insignificant.

So hit it hard and perhaps youll find out that the zero-based budget can result in even bigger budget!

Marketing ≠ communication

Everybody knows marketing communication. However, do we really have to consider it as the only important part of marketing?

What marketing is and is not.

Great deal of us read some marketing definitions at college or university and then passed respective exams. These marketing theory definitions have been with us for more than fifty years, so we will remind you of them.
According to the American Marketing Association, marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.
Keisha M. Cutright, Assistant Professor of Marketing at The Wharton School in Pennsylvania, USA, says that we can consider marketing as an independent organisational unit or as a set of processes focused on understanding the customers and meeting their needs.
Among these issues, there belongs often a decision about what products to make, where to sell them, how to promote them and what are their prices.
Although these principals are more than fifty years old, as mentioned above, nothing about them has changed still. It is not primarily about the product, as many think, it is about the customers and their needs.
That is why we need to realise one thing, closely related, that marketing ≠ communication.

What is communication?

Communication cannot be described simply as an advertisement (ATL, BTL), digital, PR, events and much more. It is a vital part of marketing, the most visible one, but it is still only its part. The communication itself is preceded by a lot of important work that matters in practice the most.

Why is it wrong?

Our little marketing pool mostly tries to figure out what campaign it is doing with no worked out segmentation, knowing nothing about the customers’s motives, not thinking about the product itself, its price, and without a proper strategy to roof it all up for a period longer than the actual three month campaign. Unfortunately, then it happens that the campaign is nice, but useless. Business either stagnates or even goes down. The market share doesn’t move or we even plummet. As we don’t execute surveys, we don’t know if the brand awareness is going up or down, not to mention other useful metrics. And one of the reasons is our approach when we do only communication.
Is it because of the fact that other parts of marketing are boring, or they are not seen, and then we have nothing to boast about at the conferences? Or there is a large number of agencies and they make their clients simply do? Or the Czech marketers don’t have such know-how and have now idea how to work with marketing?
The reasons will be countless, which we can study indefinitely, or we can inspire ourselves by successful approaches, proven in practice and yielding results. Mark Ritson promotes one such interesting approach.

What does such strategy looks like?

Mark Ritson is a professor Adjunct Professor of Marketing at Melbourne Business School, a marketer, who has experience with working for the biggest brands (LVMH, GSK, Pepsico etc.).
Last but not least, he is an excellent speaker who can get attention even from the biggest sleepers of marketing events through his presentations and appearances. To simplify, we can describe this marketing approach in three steps. Analysis, strategy, tactics.


The basis is understanding the market and creation of segmentation. Segmentation is not targeting. Segmentation has nothing to do with brand or society. Segmentation can be described as an objective classification of target audiences in the market. Interesting enough, if the competition has the same target audience and does it all right, the same segmentation is achieved. At this stage, we have to find out too, what the customers think. We begin with quantitative research, and the acquired data then verify with qualitative research. Let’s forget what we marketers think and let us listen to the customers.


The magical word “strategy” is to mainly define what we will and we will not do over next twelve months. How we will aim based on each segment (typical mistake is - we aim at all). We must set narrow but distinct positioning within the market, coming from where we will stand firm or where not, and what is our goal to represent to the consumer. Lastly, we set clear, measurable, strategic goals for a period not longer than twelve months. At the same time, we can use three simple questions - Who? What? How?


Final part of marketing concerns the product development, price formation, distribution and then our favourite discipline - communication. Here we must add, mathematically the communication is only eight percent of marketing. On the top of that, at the end of the whole process. Every area is clearly defined and builds on previous steps. Practically, we can say we still do marketing without communication, and it even delivers. The most important about it is that if we mess up step one or two, we do such communication in vain, as it won’t simply work.


This approach is not an easy one, it requires much work, much persuasion, be it the colleagues, superiors and many other people from the industry who will stubbornly claim that communication = marketing. Let us use follow the principals defined decades ago and are constant. Everything is about the customer, their motives and the ways how to meet their need.