In: Support

Inspiration and Education Aren’t The Same Thing

Mar 15, 2016

One of the biggest faults marketers have is that we just love marketing. We don’t fall for every campaign we come across hook, line, and sinker; but we really love to see smart marketing executed well. It’s like watching a great hockey game. You can’t wait to talk to fellow fans about that bananas powerplay you all watched the other night.   Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with getting excited when a big marketing idea makes a splash. Where it becomes a fault and a disservice to clients and readers is when we try to compare these victories to anything like what a small company can do on a limited budget.   The next time you’re tempted to read about The 6 Things the Red Bull Space Jump Can Teach SMBs, try to get your head out of the clouds. In an effort to cheerlead and capitalize on a big marketing splash, marketing bloggers constantly make the same mistakes.   The real price of these mistakes? Business owners get excited, try a million unreachable things, and then get entirely discouraged – often hurting their online reputation along the way.   It comes down to a difference between inspiration and education. It’s fun to be inspired by a big campaign, but if your company is one of the little guys with an unattended twitter account, 3 AdWords campaigns, and a whole lot of love, what it needs more is a marketing education.  

Marketing Inspiration Mistakes that Hurt Small Business Owners


1. Expensive Marketing Only Looks Effortless

  When something looks like it went viral without a lick of work, there was a lot of effort happening behind the scenes – and money, and non-disclosure agreements, and testing.   That explosive word of mouth campaign was weeks of networking, coordination, and contract signing in the making. Dollar Shave Club didn’t make that bombshell commercial in 2 hours, and it definitely didn’t come upon all the media attention by surprise. It took time, connection, and knowledge… just like almost every other overnight media sensation.  

2. Surprise Releases Took Forever to Build

  Every marketer knows that a key function of their job is to go to daily battle against one of the most powerful foes in the business world: the absolutely useless average human attention span.   You’ve probably looked at 3 other things while you were reading this post! This is why there are so many surprise marketing campaigns. People can only anticipate something for so long, and then they literally forget it was ever something they were excited in.   The Red Bull Stratos jump, darling of the marketing inspiration blog genre, took over 2 years of planning and lawsuits to get off the ground. (And once it happened, only 10 minutes to get back on the ground!). While it was tremendously exciting, there is very little the average small business owner can learn from a campaign with years of preparation executed by a major multinational corporation leading its sector in worldwide sales.  


3. “Be Famous; Then Act” is Impossible Advice.

  Almost everything a celebrity does is news. If a marketing article is giving you advice based on something a celebrity did that made the news, you can’t expect any coverage for behaving in a similar way.   After Beyonce dropped her surprise album, LinkedIn lit up with screenshots of Beyonce and Marketing Secrets You Can Learn From Her Surprise Release!

Here’s what you can learn from Beyonce’s surprise album release:

• Beyonce is extremely famous

• Beyonce has very good, very expensive lawyers

  If you aren’t extremely famous with an entire law firm in your pocket, you can’t learn a whole lot from Beyonce. Your marketing did not, and will never, wake up like this.  

4. Rebel Without a Cause is Not a Good Look.

  You know that inspiring marketing company that broke all the rules and now it’s a media darling? That is very unlikely to be you. You can’t break all the rules and expect easy success. A lot of these companies were following the rules for years! Think about Dove’s Real Beauty campaign. And, more recently, their sister company Axe's similar campaign for men.   Would Dove have been able to go after that angle if it hadn’t spent years following the marketing and demographic rules, amassing a media budget that would allow it to break away from the pack?   There are some companies that can break all the rules. The companies are usually staffed by a large team of rule followers, who have seen the strategy and done the testing to discover which rule is the most profitable to ignore.   While marketing inspiration can be a great way to get your creative juices going, it’s never going to replace a solid marketing education. Paying attention to data within and outside of your company and your industry, being accessible to your customers and prospects, and being open to classes, seminars, and books about marketing your company from sensible writers who’ve been down the same path as you.

If you’re looking for a marketing team who will keep your expectations (and your budget) firmly planted here on Earth, give the team at ATAK a call or an email.

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