All marketers are dumb!

by Alistair Helm in

I wrote this post some months ago now whilst sitting on a plane - a habit I have developed over the years - its always a creative place for me. It was triggered by this spray painted "advert" on the pavement in Auckland the previous day.


All marketers are liars – so wrote Seth Godin as the title to one of his many excellent, easily digestible books. I have respectfully plagiarised the title to headline this post.

I am not drawn to blog often to matters non-real estate related, but when it comes to the web I am often moved by what I see as inane marketing online, certainly here in NZ and likely as not overseas.

The matter that drives me to believe that all (well at least some) marketers are dumb is the seemingly blind devotion to Facebook.

I am seeing an ever growing move to drive more and more consumers to Facebook – whether it be a competition or as a surrogate home page. Do not these technically competent people realize that Facebook is a “walled-garden”? – a community where brand loyalty is to Facebook and not your brand.

As a marketer you create compelling content online and invest in rich content to drive deep SEO for your website which may very effectively drive e-commerce or at least response to you through contact forms or details of your physical location or your retail outlets and then you literally throw it all away by saying to people “Find us on Facebook” in some apologetic attempt to say that we as a company and a brand are happy to bow down before the “almighty Facebook”.

Yes I hear the cry of “well 1 billion people have a Facebook account and somewhere around 500 million people use Facebook everyday – the fact to remember is that to get to Facebook you have to access the internet through a mobile browser, app or the web. This core infrastructure is what your website runs on. The analogy would be for a fashion  brand building a great retail store on the high street and then saying come and visit us at the discount remnant store out of town in which all your branding counts for nothing with all companies apparel lined up and sold on price with you receiving cents on the dollar.

Facebook is a commercial company; the Internet is a free and open environment. On the web you can build what you like, how you like and when you like and control every facet of the experience and your investment can be rewarded through SEO and engagement. Facebook is not open, it has even begun to charge users to receive traffic to your page through promoted posts, this is likely to be their core future revenue, especially when they have your customers, but it is not flexible creatively or commercially.

As marketers we have always argued that branding is a developed art that creates and sustains a point of difference that can create loyalty and hopefully sustain premium positioning and differentiation. Why would you sacrifice all of that to flock to the Altar of Facebook?

Don’t forget that the web is accessible to likely as not twice as many people and Facebook – be creative, use Facebook, but please stop believing the web is Facebook and do a service to consumers to educate them.

As a demonstration of how to use Facebook in marketing - as opposed to being used by Facebook for your marketing have a look at this campaign currently being undertaken by Amnesty International - trial by timeline. A perfect execution in my opinion.