Why do so many digital marketers fail?

I have just been reading some of the summaries from the latest gathering of digital marketing “stars” (in their minds) at SXSW, and it’s no wonder there is so much money wasted on digital marketing. Would I like to be able to do whatever I want when it comes to marketing online? You bet, but I understand that my client is in business to make money, and I have to clearly show them that what we are doing is driving brand objectives.

Suppose you think that the top brand doing well in digital marketing is immune to mistakes. It would he will you look no further than Starbucks’ “Race Together” campaign, which is being pulled amid a lot of consumer push-back. According to the NY Times, “The initiative, which began last week, was mocked with such vehemence on social media that the company’s senior vice president for global communications deleted his Twitter account because, as he wrote on Medium, he felt “personally attacked in a cascade of negativity.”

That is what happens when a brand feels it’s bigger than it is.

Launching a lot of several digital marketing initiatives without a firm understanding of marketing and what today’s consumers want is like walking in a swamp blindfolded. You never know when you are going to step into quicksand. Yet too many brands are led by people who call themselves “digital marketers” when they haven’t done a damn thing to drive the business. Instead, they attend SXSW and speak to the audience like rock stars.


The best digital marketers have product/brand marketing experience under their belts and a successful track record of driving measurable business objectives. If you want to hire someone who only knows their way around social media and the Web, in all likelihood, you’re going to fail.


One of the questions I like to ask when I hire digital markers is, “tell me who you follow on social media.” If they follow blowhards like Armano or Gary Vaynerchuk, I ask, “what have you learned from them as applied to business strategies online.” If they repeat what they have said, I know they are being led by the blind, who are legends in their minds.

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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