The Number One Marketing Mistake Even Big Brands Make

David Betke

Read Time: Approximately 5 minutes  

A marketing channel is not a marketing strategy! Attention is not an outcome... A marketing channel is not a marketing strategy! Attention is not an outcome.

Yes, I know I am repeating myself, but this must become a mantra for everyone responsible for your marketing dollar.

Youtube, Facebook, LinkedIn, content marketing, TV, radio, print, web, billboards, and promotional products are just marketing channels. They are the only places where traffic and attention gathers. But traffic and attention are not outcomes. They are just part of the process of getting people to join you, buy from you, or rave about you.

No amount of attention will equate to sales unless you have the following:

  • A product or service that your audience needs
  • Your message is in front of the right people at the right time
  • You have a process to convert that attention into actions, sales, or hires.

Yet, I see it several times per day, organizations skipping straight to the attention phase of marketing with no plan for how to convert that attention into actions, sales, and hires.

I call this Shiny marketing.

Effective marketing views reaching your goal as the outcome. Traffic is a component of the process. Shiny marketing views traffic as the outcome.

Shiny marketing is new, fun, and seemingly easy. It promises the world with little effort on your part. It may create dopamine rushes such as likes, follows, or empty attention, but it rarely generates sustainable results and almost always leads to an unrecoverable expense.

Shiny marketing is the number one reason people conclude that a marketing channel doesn't work.

Many website designers are great at shiny marketing. They make attractive websites that people love to look at, but they don't convert. So many people go on to the next web designer who creates another pretty site with more shiny bells and whistles. It fails to convert, and the spiral continues until the next new shiny thing comes up.

The problem is that Shiny Marketing views traffic as an outcome.

The people who sell promotional products are great at selling shiny things. They are almost guaranteed to attract hoards to your trade show booth. The problem is that a hoard of freebie seekers empties your pocket but never becomes customers. Unless you get the right people to your booth and have a strategy that turns them into customers, employees, or raving fans, it's just another expense. Yet this point is lost on many, and they continue to look for the newest shiny thing.

I love listening to all the new pitches on our Instagram page. All of these so-called ‘agencies’ promise to increase our follower count. Yet I go to their pages, and while they have many followers, their engagement rates are a tiny fraction of ours. They may get some gullible short-term customers, but their long-term business chances are bleak. The word gets out.

Similarly, many traditional agencies love to pat each other on the back and hand out pieces of glass for their brilliant creative, how many impressions they created, or how many ears your message reached. But none of that matters unless the hands and feet that are attached to those ears take out their credit cards.

Shiny marketing may be pretty, but it is full of empty promises.

Effective marketing, on the other hand, is based on data and processes. It focuses on your goals, not the shiny things emerging by the moment that will distract you from them.

Strategic marketing takes time and work, but it always pays off. It may not have the empty calorie sugar-like rush that shiny marketing has, but it will inevitably lead to less waste, more action, and long-term sustainability.

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About The Author

David Betke has dedicated his career to helping brands that give back make a bigger difference. His campaigns have helped save a 65 000-acre forest forever, reduced carbon emissions in a city measurably, and helped recruit three senior engineers during the height of a labor crisis. One even generated a 6000% return within six months and attracted many great customers for life. David has been recognized with seven national marketing awards.