This is a preview of chapter 4 from the book “What separates winners from losers in Digital Marketing?”

It is in this chapter you will learn about why marketing has such a bad reputation, why traditional marketing with its rising costs is becoming increasingly ineffective, and what errors have persisted.

There are several reasons why the reputation of marketing has become so bad. Almost all have to do with the basic manner in which it has been practiced for the last 50 years.

It has often been – and even to this day – that marketing has been used to dump low-quality products on the market.

Where the product lacks quality, the classic marketing tries to compensate by pretending there is a quality that does not, in fact, exist.

Then you will sometimes hear: “By the time the customer notices, he has already made the purchase, the company has made the profit, and therefore all is well.” This short-term pursuit of profit can be found in many sales departments today, but in most cases, it’s a first class waste of money.

Push Marketing: Bombarding with advertisements

This type of marketing is often accompanied by very unpleasant methods that put a prospect under pressure and try to force him to buy; just think of the methods used by telemarketers.

Also, stylistically, it’s sometimes chaotic: adjectives are piled on like thick stage make-up, and language is always on the brink of overdone and often beyond implausible.

We summarize all these methods together under the term Push Marketing, because it pushes information under pressure to the receiver. The question of whether the recipient is interested in the message or not is considered unimportant, as this type of marketing doesn’t ask for permission.

The first problem: Exaggeration and mendacity as beliefs

The belief behind this is: “anyone already interested will buy.” In other words, you wanted to catch a mouse, so you bombed the city.

In diluted form the same thinking can be found about sales promotion. This term was prevalent for a long time in German speaking countries – and it is apt for a particular conceptual understanding of marketing.

Marketing as sales promotion is: First comes the product, then advertising is created for this product.

Note also the temporal dimension: Marketing in this case comes after product design – this is completely different from marketing for the 21st century. We will take a closer look at this topic in chapter 20 (the chapter on startups).

This promotional marketing represents the prevailing understanding of marketing in the minds of many today.

Recently the following statement was heard at a meeting of the management of Swiss industrial SMEs: “In marketing, you have to overdo it really hard.” This was said, not by the court jester – but the CEO. He actually believed that exaggerated, loud-mouthed, false, and dishonest marketing language aiming to attract new customers could be beneficial.

He believed that in the chorus of those who shout, he simply had to shout even louder. The fact that the customers are all traveling with earplugs in already and many have already run off was completely lost on him.

The second Problem: The product-centric view

Whoever has to create a marketing concept on such a basis is forced into bad marketing. The problem is not only the fact that a ready-made, self-contained product has to be advertised; the whole point is that the thinking and actions of most marketing professionals is entirely focused on the product itself.

Why is this wrong?

It’s a perspective that typically leads to push marketing, and this marketing has become expensive and less effective. It is therefore not particularly surprising that the prevailing idea in many minds at the leadership level is that marketing is inherently useless and expensive – because it was done this way for years, and nothing good came of it.

Once burned, twice shy.

At the beginning of the marketing age, around the middle of the 20th century, the concept of push marketing still worked reasonably well. The human being was conditioned to believe statements the first time, so it was simply a matter of communicative efficiency.

Imagine how terribly busy your life would be if you had to assume that every bit of information you receive daily is false: At the airport, the plane isn’t going to London, as indicated, but to Madrid, in exactly the opposite direction; the newspapers announce sunshine, but in truth it’s pouring, and the coffee is advertised at 3.50 but is actually 5.– … and tastes like tea. It would be even busier, every day, than what we already have to deal with.

Therefore, with regard to advertising, the human brain had to first of all learn that many things given the highest commendation turn out less glamorous in deed and truth. Our brains had to learn to recognize the context of advertising, and compare this realization to the actual statements. This contextual understanding is terrifically important.

How reputation is always established in a certain context

There is an interesting experiment that has been carried out on various occasions. It goes like this:

A group of people are presented with the same headline, but in the layout of different newspapers. In other words: The content is the same, but the context is different.

If you then asked the people how they would judge the credibility of this headline, what comes out of it is nothing other than the reputation of the respective paper.

Normally tabloids rate poorly, while high quality names fare better.

This issue of contextuality has, of course, been recognized by advertisers. They therefore place their ads in newspapers to make them look like newspaper articles. Competition laws say these ads must be labeled as advertisements, but what happens is that it’s done so the reader doesn’t necessarily notice.

Ok, now let’s have a look at the solution

Now let’s have a look at the solution. Before we get into what marketing in the 21st century looks like …