Marketing Technologies Weaponized Marketing

Marketing stacks and technology promised to provide intelligent, signal-responsive, targeting – to basically ‘mind read’ – and thoughtfully match us to helpful products and services. It was to be a long-awaited era of enlightenment and courtesy. This did not happen. In fact, the opposite happened. Marketing was weaponized, and the spoils now go to the best 3% of marketers.

Sophisticated targeting tools, sourced from user-generated content on social media platforms, Internet history, search, behavior and engagement analytics; fed through smart phones and devices, leveraging location and even audio signals –  all terminating into big data clusters with artificial intelligence, and sophisticated machine learning algorithms – was supposed to proffer us stuff we wanted. It was supposed to be an enlightened age.  Courteous. Thoughtful. 

That didn’t happen. Instead, we got something disruptive and dumb. We’re effectively in an arms race to evade ever-more-disruptive targeting practices. I fully expect messages to emanate from my toilet any given morning. “Don’t you remember? You agreed to the Terms Of Service?”

The truth is we got some of what we wanted. We got a pairing or a matching of us to products, they do seem to know what we want.

But what each company doesn’t realize is that sales are buyer-driven, and that means, their content, which is seller-centric, leads to a situation where 20 suiters are asking the same woman for a dance. Except in this metaphor: they all have GPS to know where she is, every moment of the day. They can now all effectively stalk her. Sure, they may have what she wants, but the selection process, which is hers, driven by her, is entirely ignored. 

Any given one of them, like any given company’s ads, aren’t honest, are not objective. They just aren’t helpful. 

Sounds delightful, doesn’t it? That’s how modern marketing – over-utilizing ‘technology’ – works.

This is what happens when you don’t realize buyers drive the Sales Cycle with search, and don’t want to see your brochures or ads. They want to discover content and find you that way, on their terms. 

Buyers, including you – and including the young lady in our metaphor – want to slow down, to search, get to know and consider options before buying, or dating or getting married (to extend our metaphor further). 

So, the targeting has never been better, and most marketers and companies think that’s sufficient. But it’s not. 

Look at click-through rates. About 2% for search, and .2% for display. That means 49 times out of 50 – even when you have exact keyword or search term alignment nobody wants to click your dumb ad. They don’t want to read your brochure. They don’t want a sales call – at least not until the very end of the Buyer’s Journey, when they’ve pretty much decided on what they want. Like the ‘suiters’ having GPS, companies now have the technology to precisely target you, to interrupt you, and talk about themselves.

And the cycle of technology being mistaken for ‘marketing’ continues, ad infinitum, with new platforms offering temporary gains for mediocre marketers, before that, too, gets ruined. As Gary Vaynerchuk says: “Marketers ruin marketing.”

We would go one better and say they weaponize marketing.

Here’s the pattern:

  1. Low-hanging technology attracts a amateur marketers, who confuse managing the technology with ‘marketing’. They know 10% more than their clients, and expect click-through rates of 2%. 
  2. In a search for better results, they embrace newfangled (usually invasive) technology – be it for targeting, or lead-scraping, or lead-validating, or some new paid-placement channel or platform. Note: there is nowhere people want to be interrupted. Not in Google search. Not on Facebook. 
  3. The technology offers unskilled marketers some limited gains, and more jump aboard. 
  4. As more compete for attention, and buyers get sick of being interrupted, the returns diminish or die, until…
  5. Demand (from marketers) drives a company to create a new marketing type or platform. 
  6. Rinse and repeat.

We aren’t dissing marketing technology. We’re saying it doesn’t address how people actually buy today, and offers limited wins.

Because marketers’ attitudes haven’t really evolved with the technology, they are now unwittingly fusing aggressive, 1950’s ‘Don Draper’, ‘Push’ marketing, approaches with powerful marketing technology from the modern era- capable of scraping thousands of email addresses, stalking people across the internet, across channels, and even listening to their mobile devices. The result is a ‘worst of both worlds’, where ugly ‘Push’ marketing uses unprecedented technology.

We now have the tools and technology to literally stalk and harass people – at scale – using a ‘stack’ of enterprise marketing tools. 

But this is not how marketing ideally works. It should be content, and work from consent. Buyers drive the sales cycle, and companies can only offer helpful information for their search, for them to research and consider. 

This reality is why you ignored a few dozen emails today, and a few thousand ads. You didn’t ask, didn’t care, and those companies wasted their money. So, stop ‘Interruption Marketing’ – if you are – with your own marketing or company.

Oh wait, it gets better

Because marketing is so often done correctly, the distribution of wins is now heavily-tipped to companies who know this secret, and who market correctly. A website can gather all the leads, whether a company can service them or not. If Company A is better – more helpful, more knowledgeable – than Companies B-E – everybody will contact them. This isn’t socialism; it’s a meritocracy. Second place will lose to what appears to be the best, every time, on the Internet, whether it’s search traffic, or business. And, again, if Company A can’t service them, they’ll simply scale or grow, so they can. Or raise their fees. 

The point is the distribution disparities you can see in this era of the Internet, where the ‘hustle’ is on the buyer’s side (they’re doing the search, making the calls, doing the comparing, they’re reaching out to companies – there is no ‘selling’ that has to be performed by personnel) is dramatic and theoretically limitless.