Dangerously Naive Marketing

by Randy Murray on November 30, 2011

I deal with businesses of all sizes and a common theme that I hear from them is this: they are completely confused about what they should be doing with marketing. To them it seems like every day they’re hearing something different.

  • You need a website, then you don’t need one at all, just a Facebook page.
  • SEO is the key to success, but SEO is a scam.
  • Twitter is the only marketing tool you need, even though almost none of your customers know what it is.

I sympathize. On more cynical days I think that people are out there intentionally mixing the messages.

What remains true is that you need ways to spread the word about your product or service. There is no single method, no secret, no simple key. Formulas are bound to fail. Anyone who tells you differently is either lying to you or dangerously naive.

If you’ve been around awhile, you’ve seen how the game has changed. I remember businesses that were terrified that their customers would discover that they had competitors. They did everything they could to convince their prospects that they were the only solution on the market. Today, anyone with access to Google can get a list of every one of the competitive options in about five seconds. That’s a game changer. But it doesn’t mean that you don’t need printed brochures, you don’t need to send direct mail, or you don’t have to show up at trade shows. It just means that you need to be smart about it. And EVERYTHING has to be integrated.

What your customers and prospects need and want is information. They need to know what you can and can’t do. They need to know you understand their problems, the industry, and that you provide clear value. You can’t hide the fact that there are other companies that sell a product very similar to yours. You can’t hide the fact that some people don’t like you.

What you can do is open up a bit.

There will be new methods to market that pop up every few months. You need to be open to experimenting with them. You probably do need a Facebook Fan page, but only if you have a plan to actually do something with it. You do need to use Twitter and pay attention to what people are saying about you, respond to every possible mention of you or your product (especially the complaints). You do need to have an SEO plan. But if you bet the farm on any single method, you’re bound to lose.

What’s the most important thing? You need a well designed web site that not only offers your customers and prospects detailed information about your products and services, you need to demonstrate that you are in the trenches with them every day.

Every freak’n day.

Why? Because right now your next potential customer is sitting in front of a screen. They’re ready to search for the solution to their problem, a problem that you can solve. In the next few seconds they’ll find out who is providing the most information, participating in conversations, and is active and engaged. If they look at your web site today, then again in six months, and see that nothing is changed, you’ll be out of the running. The great and powerful Google is reading your site, too, and it rewards those who publish relevant information frequently by ranking them highest. Google only looks for the human readable kind of information, not some black magic, behind the scenes special codes. Google and your prospects want the same things: something new about your industry, your products, and your company. Something new today.

It doesn’t have to be difficult. It doesn’t have to be expensive. But it does have to be continually new.

It’s dangerously naive to think that you’re ever finished marketing. This has always been true. All that the new tools like web sites, blogs, Twitter, and Facebook have done is made this painfully clear.

Worry not. You and your staff already know everything that you’ll need to update your own web site every day with something new and interesting. You’ll just need a plan. You might need some help (and, of course, you could hire me for that). Most importantly you’ve got to stop kidding yourself that your web site is “finished.”

It’s never finished. It’s only just getting started.

The Dangerously Naive Marketing by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Brian Beasley November 30, 2011 at 8:44 am

The digital age is intimidating, but amidst all of the chaos of the past two decades, the fundamentals of a company’s marketing communications program have not changed. As you stated, EVERYTHING must be integrated. And, as you intimated, it all needs to point to your web site; your fluid, information- and education-rich, 24x7x365 web site. This is where the game is won or lost for many companies. It truly is naive to think otherwise.


Randy Murray November 30, 2011 at 8:58 am

That may be clear to a couple of old marketing pros like you and I, but it’s not clear to a lot of businesses. I constantly find that many want to replace one thing with another. Dump brochures for a web site, then dump the web site for Facebook, then go all Twitter, maybe something new from Google. They get frustrated when things don’t work.

What does work is integrated, continual, marketing. It’s nothing new. There are just a few new tools.

Thanks for joining the discussion,



Christopher November 30, 2011 at 10:21 am

The problem is some businesses want to find that ‘magic bullet’ that will streamline hordes of eager-to-pay customers to them. A business hears about SEO or Facebook or Twitter, and they think, ‘Hot Damn, this is what I need to make my millions and millions.’

The reality is there isn’t one ‘magic bullet’ but rather a long term strategy that integrates all these new services and social media. In the end, the value of these modern ‘toys’ is the same value more traditional and proven techniques had — which is to create customer loyalty and get the customer connected to the brand.

I think, Facebook and Twitter allows the connection to happen easier, but the business still needs to work to make these social media outlets worthwhile for the consumer.

And like you said, making sure they are all connected and integrated for optimal effect.


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