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Three Truths Marketers Always Forget

There are three things marketers always forget. Okay, not all marketers and not always. But lots of marketers, lots of the time—enough to matter. Enough to sully the waters.

First, marketers always forget that people don’t care about marketing, or even like it.

Marketing is all around us. Ads cover everything. Nothing is staged without a sponsorship. Logos are fashion. It’s easy to suppose people care as much as we do. But when we’re honest with ourselves, we know that our own data show most ads are forgotten, those that are not forgotten are generally misremembered, the effects of ads and nudges are small if not non-existent, lots of people make a point of muting or clicking through ads, and habits or friends not ads or influencers have the biggest impact on what people buy. So, that’s our operating challenge—marketing resistance.

Second, marketers always forget that marketing works best when it’s fun not intrusive.

Marketing makes demands on people. In particular, we want people’s time and attention. That’s an investment. No surprise, then, that people want a positive return on their investment. But we want a return on our marketing investment, too, so our tendency is to double down on frequency and touchpoints rather than ratchet up quality and creativity. But a bad or boring ad doesn’t get better with repetition. Sure, we can hammer it home so much that people can’t ignore us, but that takes us back to the first thing we forget. So, that’s our communications challenge—underwhelming over-saturation.

Third, marketers always forget that there is no such thing as a consumer.

Marketing is a lens on the world. A commercial lens. It is a way of seeing the world but it is not the world. Everything related to marketing—viewing, searching, browsing, shopping, buying, etc.—is but a small slice of people’s lives. People often see themselves as consuming, but never as consumers. That’s an artificial marketing construct. Nobody wakes up in the morning and says to themselves, “Oh, what a great day to be a laundry detergent consumer in a high-value consumer segment about to go on a consumer shopping journey with visions of ads dancing in my consumer head.” So, that’s our strategic challenge—people are people.

I believe that marketing is a calling. Every day, we help people with solutions to problems, big and small, in their lives. What could be more rewarding than that? But I also believe that we could carry out our calling better if we didn’t keep forgetting these few basic truths.

Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider By: Walker Smith, Chief Knowledge Officer, Brand & Marketing at Kantar

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