The cheat’s guide to sensible marketing

Ryan Wallman
September 9, 2015

Marketing

There’s no shortage of information about marketing out there – and there’s even more misinformation.

Faced with all this material (I dare not call it ‘content’), sometimes you need to take a cognitive shortcut or two. Or in other words, you need to cheat.

So here are some simple principles I follow, which you might find useful too.

 

1. Keep a salt shaker handy.

Because you’ll need to take most of what you read with a grain of salt. Or 50.

 

2. Heed the words of the wise.

Read the blogs of Drayton Bird, Bob Hoffman, Dave Trott and George Tannenbaum. They are full of good sense and excellent writing. Not to mention some hilarious ranting.

 

3. Beware the prefix.

While there are notable exceptions, the addition of a prefix before the word ‘marketing’ is usually a warning that bulls**t is in the offing. Social marketing, inbound marketing, relationship marketing and influencer marketing are at best new names for marketing approaches that have been around for decades.

And as for the anachronistic ‘digital marketing’, this article puts it better than I can.

 

4. Avoid overcomplication.

A set of brand guidelines does not need to be 200 pages long. A perceptual map does not need 10 dimensions. And as Mark Ritson says: if you can’t define your brand in three words, you’re doing a poor* job. 

*Or a word to that effect

 

5. Watch this video of the master.

David Ogilvy tells some home truths in the classic ‘We sell or else’.

 

6. Don’t be fooled by love.

Be very cautious about anything that refers to ‘brand love’ or even strong brand loyalty. The notion that people fall in love with brands is mostly wishful thinking, and has been convincingly discredited by Byron Sharp in How Brands Grow (which I strongly recommend you read).

 

7. Ignore reports from big consulting firms (unless you like parody).

Take this, for example.

 

8. If somebody proclaims something to be dead, refer back to number 1.

Advertising. Television. Direct mail. Reports of their death have been greatly exaggerated (mostly by idiots).

 

9. Subscribe to Tom Fishburne’s Marketoons.

Not only are they sensible, but they will make you laugh. And by God you do need to laugh at this industry sometimes.

 

By Ryan Wallman, Head of Copy at Wellmark.

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