Branding bullshit and marketing ignorance


  • There is no “one” marketing skill that’s needed for success. It depends on the product catgeory in which you compete.
  • Content marketing is more hype than reality.
  • People buy what’s familiar to them and it takes a lot of effort to get them to try new brands.
  • Social media marketing is as dead as Trump’s brain.
  • Having empathy with your prospect or customer can lead to great insights and success.

The Ad Contrarian’s newsletter is a great read. I find myself agreeing with him more and more, especially when it comes to the bullshit around marketers and their belief that consumers chose a brand because of “specific attributes to brands and exercise their buying prerogatives based on the meaning they assign to the brand, and how well that meaning aligns with their values”.

I was following the #marketing hashtag on Twitter, but the number of people posting garbage about what marketing is and what skills you need was largely a bunch of horseshit.

Marketing is different by product category. Marketing cars is a hell of a lot different from marketing orange juice and requires a completely different set of skills. In my opinion, the one thing that hasn’t changed is that your product, regardless of what you sell, needs to make customers happy. Research has shown, time and time again, that people will pay more money for a better product or service and that  “differentiation” of intangibles is largely a figment of marketer’s imagination.

Then there is the “discussion around content”. Do you really believe that most consumers have the time to read content on different ways to cook pasta or soup? The fact is that 99.9% of content goes unread or is just skimmed by website visitors. Is there a time when content matters? Of course. People tend to spend more time researching more expensive hard goods products, and that’s where content can make a difference if it’s relevant to THEIR needs.

I believe a huge gap in marketing today is the failure to listen to current customers and keep them as customers as your brand experiences more competition. Most brands only care about growth and often lose customers as a result.

Bob Hoffman makes another great point. People buy what’s familiar to them. Prices are rising too fast to try new products only to be disappointed. To a great extent, this IS the brand promise. Knowing that brand of pizza tastes as good as you remember when you first tried it.

Finally, there is the illusion of social media marketing. Today when anyone mentions social media marketing, I hang up the phone. Social media is great for listening, and that’s about it. Most of the ads you see on Instagram are from goods made in China and take a long time to get, or they can be easily ordered on

By the way, the number one way people find out about new products is through TV ads, not digital ads. There is so much online ad fraud right now that some estimate that up to 60% of programmatic ads are bogus.

So what’s the best marketing skill to have?

1ne: Empathy – You need to be able to understand your products as a consumer and ask, “what’s in it for me?”.

2wo: Ability to distinguish relevant research from hyped research – Just because other fools are increasing social media budgets is no reason for you to do the same. Understand the research that’s relevant to your customers and brand.

3hree: Interpersonal communication – It’s important to sell your ideas within the company and not give in to people who don’t share your vision or know what you know when it comes to marketing initiatives.

4our: Listening – Do you have the tools to listen to your prospects and customers?

If you want to have the greatest likelihood of success, I wouldn’t bet the house on focusing on a narrowly targeted customer or on the meaning of my brand. Instead, I’d put my money on making the greatest number of people familiar and comfortable with my brand. Then I’d sit back and let probability do its work.

Bob Hoffman

About richmeyer

Rich is a passionate marketer who is able to quickly understand what turns a prospect into a customer. He challenges the status quo and always asks "what can we do better"? He knows how to take analytics and turn them into opportunities and he is a great communicator.

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