Right Said, Kotler! Digital Marketers aren’t Marketers!

Right Said, Kotler! Digital Marketers aren’t Marketers!

Until 1900, the Oxford Dictionary did not have the word ‘Marketing’ in it. ‘Market’ was there but not ‘Marketing’. It was added only in 1910. First traces of advertising however go back to the 17th century. I began as a traditional marketer where we read books on ads by Ogilvy, the craftsmanship of copywriting, creative brainstorming, reading Kotler, Ries and Godin and quoting them at the back of hand. You know why we did that? Why we read? Why we tried to understand marketing? Because in no other area so much money is wasted as in marketing. We studied marketing so as to not let that money waste! And you know what, I still do it! The only difference is now I am selling ‘digital marketing’ instead of ‘Marketing’. That’s where the gap is.

Most digital marketers (client side and agency side) are NOT marketers. They do not understand, for example, 22 Immutable laws of Marketing, or have history lessons in marketing. They do what others do. Funnily, some are engineers, or bankers, etc, etc. I have nothing against them – they might have found their calling in digital marketing and that is fair. However, what I have found in recent pitches is that there is hardly any talk of ‘Marketing.’ The good old conversations around the 4Ps has gone missing (even if it is a dreaded cliche). The much-abused social media is about frivolous posts (hands up, please, if you too are fatigued from seeing Steve Jobs quote or another Father’s Day contest), and media buying, with mundane ads and no RoIs (I am yet to come across a business making money on social ads! Please enlighten me if there’s any in your knowhow).

I happen to run a digital marketing agency. I interview people, I employ them. I expect them to be marketers. At best, they are MBAs in Marketing with no inclination to extend their knowledge beyond curriculum. Most social media teams are machines producing uncanny, unthoughtful content for brands. Funnily, one-size-fits-all is practiced widely. Make a content calendar, content buckets, social creatives, and the pitch is done. Marketers on the brand side quantify social marketing with quotes like “30 posts per month” and a package for that kind of deal. Why do we need a package? Why 30 posts? Nobody has a resounding answer honestly. It seems there is a crowd on the bandwagon and another one wants to be there.

For sometime, partly out of profound arrogance and impending disappointment, I have stopped making an argument on marketing, but plainly understanding the requirement and pitching what can be comprehended by an average marketer. Sigh!

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Harsh Vardhan Dutta

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2 Replies to “Right Said, Kotler! Digital Marketers aren’t Marketers!”

  1. Businesses are making money through social ads (Ref: social media agencies and the platforms). Brands are only losing money.

    However, the bigger question is what are the alternatives? Big businesses can’t leave that space blank and smaller ones can’t afford any other medium. And is there a way for the brands to make money?

  2. For all the internet startups, if there was a way to make money, they would have cracked it by now! clearly, there is no-one cracking the code right now. So no ROI! For the smaller startups, I am sure they are working towards a certain number/valuation so that the spike in traffic can get them cosy million dollars!

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