Nope, “all those who are interested in our product” is not a valid audience description.

In talking to clients about their marketing strategy, I hear this statement many, many times: “As the possible target groups all come into question, so does interest in our products and services.” This sentence is not completely wrong – but it is completely useless. Let me explain this with a picture.

First Problem: A strategy with lack of specificity

Imagine that you are given the task of playing a piece of music on a piano. All the keys are available at basically the same time. Only, you can’t hit all keys all at once; they’re supposed to play a melody, a sequence of tones, namely, the correct ones. If we rationally analyze the factors which are vital for it, leaving out for a time the purpose of a high artistic standard, we first deal with the basics.

You need to master the following factors:

  • Tone
  • Concurrence of tones
  • Timing

What can you now do with these parameters? Well, you can do the following: With you arms directly on the keyboard, pressing all the keys, playing wide cluster chords, like a clumsy animal. Be aware: Most of your audience has left the room.

This might look like that:

Ok, this might be sweet and funny – but not very professional. But, believe me – most companies are pretty close to this level when it is about marketing skills.

Let’s assume you have learned some advanced techniques, so you can play a simple Chopin waltz, which makes you already look pretty impressive:

Perhaps you are a master and play a complex fugue by Johann Sebastian Bach. In this case: Congratulations, Maestro, you can do it!


But when it comes to marketing, many do it like the first-mentioned method: press all the buttons simultaneously, grin towards the audience … and then they wonder why their audience runs away.

Like music, marketing also takes a lot of skill

However, marketing is not an art, even at a high level. But just like playing the piano, it’s unrealistic to think that you can achieve a reasonable level of success if you have not systematically addressed the matter.

Marketing is learnable – but it’s not just a mundane thing. It’s not enough to simply have a “flair for marketing,” or to like it. It takes a profound understanding of the strategic issues and the tactical methods.

With the digitization of marketing, the complexity has increased exponentially – but so have as well the opportunities.

When we now turn back in the real world of marketing, the following picture often emerges:

  • There are relatively very few professionals who really have a clue about marketing, who have a resilient knowledge that can produce clear relationships between cause and effect in practice.
  • We often hear: “Marketing is for the trainees, for the secretary” for someone so who has time and inclination to do it.
  • Most people do not do marketing, they play marketing: This includes selecting colors, designing logos, dealing with their own perspectives, etc. (“Who are we and what do we want?”)
  • There are quite a few professionals with good training in the creative sector who have absolutely no idea about marketing.

Most marketing is based on imitation or “On the Job” training. This brings up the following problems:

  • The essence of marketing cannot be seen. Therefore, if you just copy what you see others doing, you’ll probably miss the essential.
  • Many people do their marketing by mimicking what they perceive as advertising, but much of that comes from large companies that usually have very different budgets.
  • There is a difference if you do marketing for a large group for consumer goods – or for a technology-driven SME with 30 people.
  • No one can see from the outside how a campaign is strategically set up, or how it interacts with other elements of the marketing mix. But the foundation is crucial.

Evidence-Based Marketing

How do you recognize good marketing? It’s simple: It works. However, when you start anew, you also have to provide the necessary resources, time and money. If someone expects an architect to build him a house in a week for $ 50,000, it doesn’t say anything bad about the architect, if he doesn’t do it; rather, it speaks against the client, who obviously lacks the fundamental understanding of the matter.

Imagine this:

  • Suppose you know a person through and through
  • You know exactly what his problem is and exactly what he wants
  • Imagine you have in hand exactly the right solution.
  • You also know you could convey to this man that your solution is 100% credible
  • You know that he believes and trusts you.

Would it be difficult to create a successful marketing strategy – in this case? Would it be a big expense to sell your solution to this man, provided you chose a realistic price?

What does it take to play a piece of music on a Stradivarius violin well?

I often hear the statement:

“Marketing is completely useless, just a waste of money.”

I partially agree with this statement, it’s usually not completely wrong … however, it depends on what you mean by marketing.

Most of this statement is uttered by people who, in the above image, couldn’t even play a children’s song on the violin. Let’s stay on the subject of music for a moment. As you may know, Antonio Stradivarius built the best violins in the world. Today, there are only about 200 of these instruments left in the world, and accordingly few musicians are lucky enough to play such an instrument. And yet, in the hands of a layman, it’s no good for anything.

Marketing is similar: The whole class of tools available that help us with digital marketing are useless if you don’t know how to use them effectively.

Marketing of the 21st century is no longer called promotion

What many SME bosses mean by the term Marketing is still some kind of promotion: They want to get rid of an existing product, so it needs to be advertised.

This then results in what we have referred to earlier as commercial breaks or push marketing – and these methods actually work worse and worse and even worse: They were seldom truly effective to begin with, insofar as Henry Ford was right when he said: “Half of my marketing budget goes out the window as a waste of money, but I just don’t know which half.”

With the development of the Internet, new methods have emerged, which facilitate target group analysis and also are affordable for medium-sized companies. Unlike the past, today we have, thanks to the development of the Internet, a wide variety of precise data available for free, and in fact, we have only to take it and use it intelligently.

Big Data at work: The power of authentic data

What many have not yet realized is the quality of the data that we have available today. We no longer have to guess about what will probably work in the market, we can measure it. Digital Marketing provides us with real, authentic data.

With this toolbox, we can test marketing messages in a real live market, improve them, then test again, etc. So we come ever closer to the target group with previously unthinkable, authentic quality and can zero in with our marketing more effectively and efficiently than ever.

Digital Marketing is a quantum leap

It is no exaggeration to speak at this point of a quantum leap. But the term, “hidden quantum leap,” might be appropriate, something that most have not noticed. Where lies the rub? The answer is simple, but perhaps not entirely satisfactory:

The challenge lies in the complexity of the issue and in the extremely high rate of evolution of methods.

For example, Google has made more than 1000 changes in its advertising network and the associated tools and programs in 2015, or about 20 per week. In part, the speed of development is so high that people at Google itself no longer keep up; documentation lags partially behind software development.

It is now perhaps clear: sound method requires mandatory knowledge, knowledge of the correct tactics.

Anyone who wants to master strategy must necessarily be familiar with individual tactics

Speaking of detailed knowledge: in corporate circles, the ever so popular discussions on the right strategy are no longer enough. The strategy of “the big picture,” as the Americans say is, of course, important. But whoever doesn’t know the tactics and methods of today is unable to make the right strategic decisions.

The guide who doesn’t know the terrain can not lead – it’s not enough only to recognize the summit.


Conclusion – how to rewire your understanding of marketing

  • The main mistake that almost all make is the lack of specificity.
  • “All those who are interested in our products” this does not define a target audience, but is proof that the approach of modern marketing has not been understood.
  • Enjoyment of marketing and a flair for colors is not sufficient qualification.
  • Playing marketing and doing marketing are not the same thing.
  • Anyone attempting to draw up a working strategy needs to know the individual tactics.