I had been thinking about this for a couple of days/weeks now, so I decided to write down some thoughts about it. Doesn’t it sometimes seem like everyone on Twitter and in the general content/blogging community is trying to upsell themselves as a “marketing expert?” These are people that have blogs, podcasts, websites, books, Twitters, and spend half their time (seemingly) flying to different conferences to speak about different marketing techniques to large gatherings of able-bodied individuals.
In some ways, it feels like “the marketing renaissance” has become a little bit like what happened with consulting. After a certain period of time when American business was established, it felt like everyone started becoming a consultant. Now it feels like tons of people are becoming marketing experts.
That’s actually not a good thing.
This guy makes the same point as me — arguing that if you extrapolated this to baseball, it would be super confusing to have 10 different coaches as opposed to 1 — and this guy makes a much more nuanced, longer-form point about the rise in marketing/content experts. Here’s a similar post on the topic from WTF Marketing.
Let me start with the cause, if you will, and then move into the effect.
Marketing is a big deal. In fact, you can make the argument that America is essentially based on marketing — I went to the Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp last week, and they have an entire area about this topic. Basically, Europeans heard that the streets of NYC were paved with gold … then they got here and, well, they lived in slums. Same deal with Hitler, honestly: he rose up almost entirely based on marketing. You can pretty much draw a direct line between Hitler and Oprah Winfrey if you really want to.
But here’s the rub: marketing changed over time, because of social media and e-mail and SMS and automation programs. The funnel shifted!
So you have all these businesses making great products and cranking stuff out that consumers need, but they don’t know how to effectively reach them in the new landscape.
Hence, there was a market created for “digital experts” or “marketing experts” or “Internet marketers” — hell, even SEO is a new term in the grand scheme of things — and people rushed to fill it.
That’s how the process unfolded, give or take.
Now here’s the problem:
A lot of these people say the same thing.
They say it in different ways, although typically under the guise of a BuzzFeed-type headline about “Six Ways To Super-Charge Your Instagram!” or whatever. But ultimately, the concept behind marketing isn’t that hard: out there, there are consumers. They have needs and concerns and need products to meet those needs/concerns. (This is how “content marketing” became a thing.) All you really need to do, at the end of the day, is tell a story about your value. That’s it. Marketing is really just a multi-tier, multi-platform way to tell a story. That’s it.
I’m not saying value is totally lacking at these presentations or on these sites, but consider this.
Here’s a post from Convince and Convert — Jay Baer’s site, although he didn’t write this specific post — about “The Four Parts Of A Must-Click Call To Action.” Their first piece of advice?
Using A/B testing tools on your calls to action is essential. Since the CTA is the last moment of decision for your customer, it’s a critical place to spend your time. As they hover over that submit button, make it as easy as possible for them to convert.
Now here’s a post from Quick Sprout — Neil Patel’s site, and he did write this one — called “11 Ways To Improve Your Call To Action.” A nugget?
Lesson learned: calls to action that are related to your product or service tend to convert better than generic calls to action. Try testing button text that is highly related to what you are offering or selling.
Right before the nugget above on the Convince and Convert post, they too talk about “specific language.”
Basically, everyone is saying the same thing.
That’s not a bad thing on face, because the advice is sound — you should be testing CTA buttons, of course — but it does create quite a bit of noise in the overall “marketing expert” field.
Consider this too: “marketing experts” has 59.3 million Google hits, including a boatload of ads. “Small business marketing experts” has 84.6 million. “Marketing experts to follow on Twitter?” 46.9 million.
Clearly, people are out there searching for this stuff — and it often seems like people are a little too eager to rush headlong into the fold to serve that need, even if they’re saying the same stuff as everyone else.