Online marketing is a complex system
Those who read my blog regularly, or have been to my conferences, talks, or university lectures know that I’ve been saying it since 2007 that online marketing is a complex system, where success can only be guaranteed if you utilize multiple tools strategically, instead of just one or two (Facebook, SEO, etc.) Many have taken this advice, and the world of online marketing consultancy has also changed. SEO firms promote themselves as SEO based online marketing consultants. Facebook professionals tout themselves as social media based marketing consultants. I’m glad that this is happening, that I’ve managed to steer the market in a more efficient direction, and that both customers and marketing consulting agencies are seeing the benefits. Unfortunately, however, my thesis hasn’t yet reached everyone.
I came across a shocking case this week during one of our online marketing audits. They had been recklessly wasting money thanks to lack of marketing competence. It’s not rare to see an in-house marketer who’s only good at one field of marketing and ignore the rest. They think, for example, that it’s worth running ads on Google, while paying no attention to search engine optimization, because they don’t understand the processes involved. This, of course results in the company losing a ton of conversions, with expensive Google Ads bids, but at least they don’t waste money on a consultant that does nothing but burn their money.
400 000 Forints ($1300) for Google advertising – money down the drain
What I’ve seen was exactly that. If an ad makes no sense whatsoever, and a startup spends 400K on it every month, then that’s what I call a catastrophic mistake. It’s not that the default ad settings in Google Ads can’t run a campaign efficiently and drive conversions. Facebook and Google advertisements are the easiest online tools to use for gaining customers. Doing that in a cost-efficient manner is an entirely separate question. But the company I was just talking about had managed to sell eleven pieces of a product priced at 3300 Forints, while spending 400K on ads to promote that product. That’s not Google Ads’ fault. And not even the product’s fault, as it’s a good quality, and well-priced product. So who’s to blame?
Everyone knows that all marketing tools have a learning curve. All investments need time to bloom. You have to spend on marketing until its processes are in motion. Yes, that’s true. But we’re talking entirely different proportions here. Apart from the cost of the campaign, there’s also the price of consulting services which their “marketing consultant” was billing them. How can someone get zero results while spending so much money? Well, if someone’s not a marketer, then they simply don’t know how marketing works. That’s how. I wrote an article on how the advent of online marketing changed the 7 Ps of marketing (which you can read here in Hungarian).
Every single one of those 7 Ps are essential for your success in your online marketing communications. ‘Stop with that scientific talk, we’re not at the university’ – you might be saying. Surprising as it may sound, marketing is, in fact a science, and researchers work hard on understanding its processes. If I create a Google Ads account, I can achieve some success, but that won’t make me a marketing expert. Okay, in English, please! All right, here it goes:
Marketing starts with the product!
If there’s no product, then there’s nothing to sell. That’s the case in our example as well. No, I didn’t do an online marketing audit for a money laundering business. I held the product in my hand – it was nice and useful. I got one for each of my family members. So what do I mean when I say there’s no product? When my family members told me ‘It’s great, but what’s it for?’ I couldn’t answer, because there wasn’t a detailed description of the product on their website. Or in their ads. I can tell you now, that it was a cream. That’s basically all the information I got when I first saw it, and that’s all those seeing the ad and visiting the website got as well. Would you buy something, that you know nothing about expect that it’s SOME sort of CREAM?
They’ve spent 400K Forints on promoting a cream. If anyone clicked on their ad and found themselves on their website, they must have been confused about what this cream might be. There was no description, so they couldn’t have known. Of course they didn’t make a purchase. I’ve written a ton about the concept of USP. Without a USP, there’s no effective online marketing. Or any sort of marketing, for that matter. It was shocking to see the business owner, who’s actually a pharmacist with a PhD, trying to explain what they were trying to sell. It came out as good as if I tried to mix you a sleeping concoction at my pharmacy. They spent a total of 1.5 million Forints ($5000) on their website, ads, and marketing consultant, who’s still standing on the bank of the Danube, throwing money into the river, without having the basics of marketing in order. There’s nothing to sell. Except, there is. They have millions of Forints worth of this cream on stock. Cream that will eventually go bad...
The basis of marketing: Define why people should buy what you’re selling
You probably remember that iconic scene from the Wolf of Wall Street, that’s been quoted by marketers around the globe ever since it came out: “Sell me this pen”. That scene perfectly sums up what we're talking about. I don’t want to buy cream now, nor a pen. But if I had to sign an important contract, and I didn’t have a pen, I’d pay good money for one.
Our cream’s story is wonderful. Our PhD pharmacist and his wife couldn’t find the right cream for their child’s skin. He brought home every crème from the pharmacy, but none of them were perfect. However, every one of them had some benefit. And our pharmacist knew what made them work, and what didn’t. So he came up with his own cream, and perfected it in practice. And thus, THE CREAM was born, and it contained all of his heart, passion, knowledge, and experience. The CREAM is actually a Hungarian product, based on Hungarian research and international experience. Would you buy THIS CREAM after clicking on an ad? If you read it in an ad, would you click on it? Now, tell me, would spending 400 000 Forints on such an ad deliver better results?
What did the “marketing consultant” say to all of this?
I knew the guy who created this campaign for the CREAM. He works in a different field (he has his own agricultural portal which he edits), so I called him and asked what he thought about it. He said he had a plan on how to continue. He wanted to create geo-targeted campaigns for the locations where they sell the CREAM. And what would you advertise? “BUY OUR CREAM, BECAUSE OUR CREAM IS GOOD”? No, a Google Ads campaign makes no sense until it’s based on a well-defined marketing system, and a well-rounded product with a strong USP. Combining that with a search engine optimized website (this particular company didn’t even have their meta fields filled), would make your online marketing even more stable. You need a complete marketing strategy, you have to know where all the tools fit in, and you have to be smart with spending your marketing budget.
If you don’t speak Arabic, then don’t speak Arabic
One of our university teachers liked to repeat this old Hungarian saying every once in a while. Today, everyone knows that online marketing is a very effective system (or at least can be), which is why there is tremendous demand for online marketing consultants. This demand drives people to the market who think that they are online marketing consultants. But they aren’t. So, what’s my advice? Look at the history of the firm you’d like to work with. There’s a lot to lose not only on unnecessary cots, but on missed profit as well!