The World Is full of C students...who think they are marketers

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"Awesome! My 15% discount promo boosted sales by over 8%!"

This jackwagon couldn’t wait to tell anyone who would listen about his “awesome” marketing campaign that resulted in a revenue uptick. What he failed to mention was that prior to the discount promotion, the product in question only had margins of 22%. So while revenues increased by 8%, guess what? With the 15% discount, profit dollars dropped by over 65%. Oh yeah…that’s awesome!

Smart marketers know the difference between revenue and profit. Smart marketers know their numbers. Smart marketers know how to do a basic break-even calculation…before offering discounts that destroy profitability. Dumb marketers have to be good at positioning failures as successes.

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"It’s too busy…I would never read an ad with this much text!"

The direct selling company I worked for started shopping for an ad agency to ease the workload for the in-house team. One of our vetting techniques was having prospective firms “evaluate” our best performing ads—not knowing the ads had been tested and proven effective, of course. A senior partner at the largest firm in town made the proclamation above…just before their entire pitch team was ushered out of the conference room.

Smart marketers know that unless you are the target market, your subjective opinion…no matter how interesting…is irrelevant. Smart marketers track response to objectively know what works and what doesn’t. Smart marketers know that real prospects will read every word of copy if it helps them make a more informed buying decision.

Dumb marketers work at ad agencies whose claims to fame are awards based on cleverness and design, rather than real world results.

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"If they aren’t using social media, then why do we want them as customers?"

This hipster dufus is a marketing director at a company that sells to old-school construction contractors — crusty, older guys who grumble about having to use a computer to do anything. Guys who only recently figured out how to turn the speaker on on their cell phone. Guys who wouldn’t know a Tweet from a twit. And this twit wanted to use only social media to market to them.

Smart marketers use the media and mechanisms that are preferred by the audiences they are trying to reach. Dumb marketers base decisions off of their own preferences (or what they read about in magazines) and then blame the market for the fact that they only have 2 followers.

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"How will we know if the campaign has been effective?"

Smart Marketers ask this question early and often. What makes this a Dumb Quote is the timing of the question…

This mental giant had not given results a second thought until money and time had already been committed toward an expensive Facebook campaign. Then, the day before the campaign was set to launch, this idiot asks the question. He initiated the campaign, yet had no clue how or even if the results could be known. All he knew was that everybody else was doing a Facebook campaign, so he should, too.

Smart marketers think about results before spending money. Dumb marketers think about results only after they fail to materialize.

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"Customers want to be lied to."

It’s not uncommon for sales managers to rein-in sales reps who are making outrageous product claims in the field. What is uncommon, however, is this VP of Sales who actually encouraged his reps to not only exaggerate, but flat-out lie — claiming that customers actually wanted to be lied to, so that they could “feel good” that the problem was being solved (even though it wasn’t).

Smart marketers know that customers want to make sound decisions and they want to work with providers they can trust tp help them make those decisions. Smart marketers know that once a customer’s trust is violated, there’s almost no winning it back. Smart marketers view their salespeople as value-added service providers. Dumb marketers look at their salespeople as con artists with expense accounts.   

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"Wait…it costs money to email millions of dead addresses?"

This desperate-for-sales, metro-man-moron-marketer scored a double on the dipshit meter. First, he decided to send a promo to every email address the company had on file, going back almost ten years. Then, after the campaign had been sent to literally millions of long-dead addresses, he was totally shocked to get a massive bill from his email service provider.

Smart marketers know that recency matters. Smart marketers know that relevance matters. Smart marketers know their costs before doing something. And smart marketers know that no amount of hair product can turn a dumb marketer into a smart one. 

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"Let’s get the design nailed down and then we can fill in the copy."

This all-too-typical marketing person thought that the most important thing about the product brochure she was commissioning was the design, layout, and color scheme. In fact, the team spent weeks going back and forth about every aspect of the graphic design, before handing it over to a copywriter to “fill in the blanks”.

Smart marketers know that the right message scrawled in crayon on a dirty paper towel will outperform a crap message in a slick design every time. That’s why you can often tell a Dumb Marketer from a Smart Marketer just by where they start. If they start by thinking about the audience and message, they might be a Smart Marketer. If they start with the design and colors, they’re definitely a Dumb Marketer. A simple test to identify simple minds.

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"How much will it cost to buy their influence?"

Wow. This sales “genius” had been struggling to bring in new customers since he was hired (if not before). Scrambling to show some semblance of progress, he looks at a list of industry speakers for an upcoming conference and sees an opportunity in making them shills to help him land a whale. Out of desperation, he begins pontificating on how he could buy the influence of these well-known authors and speakers.

Smart marketers know that influence isn’t bought—it’s earned. The way to draw attention, praise and endorsement is to be the best at meeting the needs of your market. It’s just dumb to try and find an “influencer” that’s as desperate for your money as you are for their voice. It only helps a fool find someone foolish enough to pay him.

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"Our customer satisfaction levels are far too high!"

I know—incredible, right? And in this business, more than 50% of all sales were coming via word-of-mouth referrals from satisfied customers. Even more amazing, this joker was taking this position to justify shifting dollars away from providing stellar customer service to one of his pet projects—wait for it—a “branding” campaign.

Smart marketers know that branding is an outcome, not an activity, ad campaign, or color scheme. And what better branding outcome could there possibly be than having an army of satisfied customers singing your praises far and wide?

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"With 20% margins, this 30% discount looks bad. But just wait ‘til the volume ramps!"

Yup. This idiot executed a contract whereby the retailer in question would
get a locked-in 30% discount—on a product line with only 20% margins to
begin with. And even though a teenager could easily see that 30% will
always be greater than 20%, it took a finance person, walking through
volume projections for an hour, to finally get this bozo to see that this contract would never—and could never—be profitable, at any volume level.

Smart marketers know how to use basic math to make better decisions. Dumb marketers see their ineptitude at math as the reason they went into
marketing in the first place.

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"I’m running these ads to let my foreign competitors know that we’re in this business."

This amazingly stupid explanation was offered up by a tech product marketer to explain why he had spent over $700K on an ad campaign in a country he wasn’t even selling into. He wasn’t advertising to potential customers—no way, that would be silly. He was advertising to the two potential competitors in that country. Genius! Idiot.

Of course, when it was pointed out that for much less than $700K he could fly a team of people to each of those competitors’ headquarters, every month for a year, and tell them personally, “We’re in this business!” he thought that was just silly. Idiot apprentice.