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Marketers: Wake up and Smell the Coffee


Written By: Adam Gray

This week we kicked-off a programme with a new client and we ran a strategy day with them. During this we delved in to what their aspirations were and how committed they were to make these aspirations a reality and what the challenges might be in bringing this vision to life. During this day we had lunch with the head of marketing and they said something that most marketers know but are simply too terrified to acknowledge.

“Marketing simply doesn’t work any more – email, events, advertising…none of it.”

For someone who’s job it was to market the organisation’s products and services this might seem like a rather negative outburst, but not at all. They had taken this message to the CEO and the Head of Sales and had their total support. Support to set-out on a new course. A course which might just work…well certainly the old stuff wasn’t working so what could there possibly be to lose?

Before I continue, those of you in marketing are probably sitting smugly thinking “my email marketing [or whatever other campaign] always gets exceptional results”…I doubt that’s true, but even if it is, this is not sustainable. YOU know that YOU do not like cold emails (or cold calls, or being interrupted) from anyone you don’t know, trust and like. You simply don’t. And, despite the fact that you think that your product is different and that people actually want to hear about it. It isn’t and they don’t. And if your email marketing/advertising is working at the moment you are very lucky (and it is just luck) but it won’t for much longer because people have had enough of receiving 100+ emails per day from people/companies that they don’t know offering to solve a problem that they don’t have and making suggestions based on little or know knowledge/understanding of my problems/issues/challenges.

Related: The Greatest Challenge of Marketing Beyond 2018

The net is closing in.

I digress.

This client had acknowledged all of this as was positively doing something about it. Their thinking was very progressive:

“If I don’t like receiving emails from your company, you probably won’t like receiving emails from my company.”

“I never notice advertisements on TV, in the press, on bus shelters…so you probably won’t either.”

“I find events a total waste of my time as I spend hours walking around trying to avoid being sold to…so you probably won’t like them either.”

Many organisations have acknowledged that this is the case…but very few have allowed this to drive their actions. This client has said “generating leads from outbound campaigns is not and efficient way of building relationships and selling our products…so we won’t do that any more and further more the sales and marketing teams who have been measured on – leads, calls meetings – will no longer have targets for any of those things.”


No, not really because if you are doing something and not getting the results that you want why should you keep on doing it!

The interesting thing is that this Head of Marketing (who has been a massively successful and influential marketer for 25+ years) is prepared to “dump” all of that experience and rather than think about how things used to be and what used to work…is thinking about how things are and how they will work in the future.

You too need to think about this. You need to consider how YOUR behaviour at home relates to what you do at work (or perhaps doesn’t) and take a leap of faith. Marketing needs to transform and it needs to do it now.

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