Are we overcomplicating marketing?

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Plenty of people decide to read over the Christmas break. Some will stick to fiction and let their heads wander. Others might try something related to their career and ‘sharpen the saw’. For those of us involved in marketing, this can be tricky. An Amazon search brings up tens of thousands of results. Even this guide to “must-read” marketing books can only get it down to 51.

This raises the question: has marketing become too complicated? The key principles articulated by Ogilvy – although he was talking more specifically about advertising – seem very pertinent even today. It seems like, if you wanted to advise someone on how to approach marketing, you’d point them there, rather than an Amazon search.

Why has marketing become so complex? You could argue that it’s because the age of social media,  Google Analytics and pay-per-click has created an army of self-appointed marketing ‘gurus’. These aren’t necessarily individuals, but often big companies who are desperate to tell you how to boost your number of Twitter followers, albeit for a fee. They have a vested interest in making marketing seem more complicated than perhaps it needs to be.

The flip-side, however, is that marketing hasn’t actually become more complex, but more accessible. Social media and search engines provide individuals and small businesses with the ability to reach far more people in far more diverse places than previously possible. Equally, the kind of data they now have access to – or at least the pre-digital equivalents – would previously have only been available to marketing agencies and large corporates. Now, everyone can work out the ROI of their Facebook advertising spend, and the effect of their A/B testing.

Perhaps, then, we should stop being Scrooges, and celebrate that marketing insight is no longer the preserve of the powerful.