At Silverbean, we’ve been talking about the ever-increasing amount of low-quality, lazy marketing that turns us off, leads consumers to block ads entirely and in honesty, makes us hate ourselves as marketers. Charlotte McMurray, our Digital Performance Director and one of the Top 50 under 30 women in digital, shares her views on why it’s time for us all to set some marketing New Year’s Resolutions and be better.
Over to you, Charlotte…
I have a confession to make. A lot of the time, I hate marketing.
During my later years of secondary school, a friend got me into Bill Hicks’ stand-up routines, and his strongly-voiced opinions on marketing and advertising stay with me to this day.
A few years later, when I moved from “general website bod” into my first “proper” digital marketing job, part of me was distinctly uncomfortable with the inclusion of “marketing” in the job title. I didn’t want to become the thing that Bill railed against so strongly.
And it’s everywhere.
I hate searching Google for an answer to a slightly obscure question, wading through half-arsed, heavily optimised posts only to figure out that, yes, they’re just another spun copy of the first article whose writer didn’t have time to get too creative within their £15 budget.
I hate impersonal email marketing. I’m looking at you, British Airways, flooding my inbox with “last minute Christmas getaway” newsletters despite the fact that I’d had a December holiday booked with you for over six months.
I hate the “Cool Dad” TV ads that grate so strongly on my nerves whenever I venture outside Netflix to watch television in real-time.
I hate when brands try and appeal to me as a “millennial” rather than a paying customer.
I hate the “inbound” (really?) pop-ups that interrupt my morning blog reading. Over time I’ve developed the muscle memory and reflexes to close them before my brain really has time to read them, but they still trigger a burst of frustration because ARE YOU ACTUALLY EVEN BOTHERED IF I PLOUGH THROUGH THE OTHER TWO THIRDS OF YOUR INANE CLICK-BAIT ARTICLE OR NOT?!
I hate going through a checkout process to purchase a product, searching for and un-ticking hidden “opt-to-opt-out-of-the-opt-in” boxes for up-sell and data capture options, like I’m trying to defuse a bomb, not, y’know, give your business some of my hard-earned money. How very rude.
I hate that when people ask me about my job and I tell them what I do, they automatically associate me with that kind of crap and then think less of me, because they hate it too.
In a lot of ways, I’m an ideal candidate to drop out of the industry to live in a tiny cabin with no signal and an iPad to be used only for streaming. I wouldn’t be the first.
Except that, infuriatingly, I really love my job. It suits me.
I love the challenge of it, the fast changes and sudden shifts that keep things interesting.
I love the balance between data, technology and creativity that pushes me to develop and maintain a diverse set of skills.
I love the people I work with, their tenacity and enthusiasm and intelligence.
Speaking to colleagues, friends and acquaintances within the industry, I don’t think I’m alone in this conflict.
We need to do better than this.
I’m a bit of an idealist. I think we have a moral obligation to stop making people’s day that little bit worse when we try to interact with them. You might disagree.
More pragmatically, though, I think that if we want to continue doing the things that we love about being marketers, we have to stop forcing ourselves into irrelevance.
18% of British adults use Ad-Blocking software – and that number is constantly on the rise.
But can you blame them? I would use it too, if I didn’t feel some perverse professional responsibility to experience the full horror of what my industry puts out there.
If Ad-Blocking software could also flag or block the majority of click-bait “content marketing”, I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t be missed either. It really wouldn’t surprise me to hear that somebody, somewhere, was working on that. This is about survival.
Too much of marketing is lazy, and in the age of the customer, lazy is pointless. We don’t own the broadcast channels any more, and our audiences are no longer captive. They don’t like us.
We don’t even like us.
In 2016, Silverbean will be working towards something new.
I honestly believe that there’s a better way out there.
I don’t claim to have a ten-step-process to fix a broken industry, but we have some basic principles that can help to push things in the right direction.
I firmly believe that the concepts we’ll be talking about at Silverbean over the course of 2016 can make marketing better for brands (better performance), customers (better experience) and marketers (less cognitive dissonance/general existential angst) alike.
If any of this rings a bell with you, I’d love to hear about it, and get your contributions too. Fire over your thoughts over on Twitter, or even drop me an email directly. Contact details can be discovered here.
Since writing this post, Silverbean have continued on our crusade for better marketing. We thought it would be useful to say how marketers can deliver something different. Something that their customers will thank them for. Marketing that delivers Return on Attention. Oh, and if you’re feeling risky there’s our NSFW edition available to download too!