One of my favorite memes is the “What People Think I Do / What I Really Do” meme depicting a range of stereotypes and preconceptions associated with a particular occupation or field. Being in digital marketing, the memes about social media managers, marketers, and graphic designers are particularly humorous.
Looking at these, though, provides insight into some of the major stereotypes and myths surrounding marketers, digital marketing, and social media. I thought I would debunk a few for everyone today:
1. Mad Men drama.
I want to get one of the biggest stereotypes out of the way and kill a few birds with one stone. Since the explosive popularity of AMC’s Mad Men, many people now have a glorified view of marketing and advertising. While it makes for great television, marketers’ lives are not elegant soap operas full of excessive drinking, affairs, parties, and drama. The exorbitant lifestyle and drama depicted in Mad Men is just for show. Marketers do accomplish work and have a little more self-control.
2. If you build it, they will come.
Great movie, but it simply doesn’t work in real life. Just look at the first dot-com bubble and Pets.com. You can have a “million-dollar idea” or the perfect domain name, but it is worthless if you cannot get it in front of the right consumers and market it well. ExactTarget Vice President of Marketing Insights Jeff Rohrs says, “There is an assumption by an awful lot of brands and startups that the audience is just there.” Distribution strategy and proprietary audience development should be a priority for every marketer.
3. Numbers are useless.
I like to call this the Don Draper-style of marketing, where the focus is solely only on the creative. If you watch Mad Men, you notice that the only thing that matters is the creative and clever tagline in a campaign. Measurement, personalization, and building relationships with customers are nowhere to be seen. Many agencies and marketing departments still operate under that mentality. We have come out of the stone age now, though, and data is critical in a successful marketing program to provide measurement and a 1:1 experience for customers. This is the era of big data, but you should be more concerned with actionable data than big data.
4. Marketers are workaholics.
People in marketing, advertising, and sales often have the stereotype as being workaholics without a work/life balance. While we may be passionate about our work, we still have lives beyond our jobs and find creative ways to forget we’re digital marketers. I recently heard from someone that it’s not about finding a work/life balance, it’s about setting the right priorities. Marissa Mayer recently spoke about the importance of setting priorities in her fireside chat with Marc Benioff at Dreamforce 2013.
5. Email marketing is just a euphemism for “spam.”
Many people will argue that marketers are simply professional spammers – especially if you’re in the digital marketing business like myself. In reality, marketing should be the exact opposite. As Jay Baer, author of Youtility, puts it, “Smart marketing is about help, not hype.” Brands should be focused around providing value, knowledge, and help to customers instead of pushing promotional messages down their throats.
6. Email is dying.
People have argued since MySpace messages were released that email is dying. The truth, though, is that over 50% of consumers say email is their preferred channel of communication with a brand. The same study also found that 0% of respondents said social was their preferred channel (DM News). Whether you like it or not, email is a vital part of our productivity and lives.
7. My social media followers are devoted, truly loyal fans of my brand.
Capturing a like or follow is only half the battle. The more important battle is engaging with your followers and starting conversations. The sad truth is that 71% of tweets go ignored (Search Engine Journal). Too often brands focus on the “untapped” markets without realizing that some of these audiences they believe to already be “captured” are the lowest-hanging fruits of prospective customers. Providing value and building relationships should be your ultimate goals with social media.