The Problem with Marketing Today.


So, a woman goes onto a medical discussion group on the Internet and asks all the participating group members the following question:

“Can anyone suggest the best way to spend my health care dollars to relieve crippling back pain?”

Within minutes, the following answers appear in the discussion room:

John Doe, Chief Acupuncturist replies:
You need acupuncture.

Jane Smith, VP of Sales with Johnson’s Massotherapy replies:
You need a back massage.

Doctor Vinnie Goomba, Surgeon replies:
You may need surgery; we’ll take an X-ray.

Alice Jones, Director of Marketing with Osgood Orthotics says:
You need special inserts for your shoes.

Hank Witherspoon, manager with Professional Office Supplies replies:
You need an ergonomically designed desk chair.

Franco DeLupi, personal trainer replies:
You need to exercise.

Artie McSmarty, dietitian and nutritionist says:
You need to eat better and lose a few pounds.

Bob Jones, DrugStuff Pharmacist replies:
Take Aleve or Advil and apply a heating pad (aisle 4).

Lucy Alluette, Yoga Instructor replies:
Yoga will relieve your stress an stretch your muscles.

And on and on and on…

Of course, any one of these replies could work. Or, depending upon the patient’s actual medical condition, could kill her. Yes, I said it, kill her. Fortunately, no one would allow random people to offer medical advice over the Internet without a flashing sign that reads: THIS SITE IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY ADVICE OFFERED BY MEMBERS OF THIS GROUP; WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO SEEK ACTUAL MEDICAL CARE.

But “Marketing” is a whole other matter. Earlier today I received a discussion alert from a marketing group on LinkedIn. The question posted was this:

“Can anyone suggest the best areas to spend marketing budgets in difficult times such as these?”

A total of 39 comments have been posted so far. Amazingly, every single reply is more useless than the preceding reply. “Use SEO,” says the SEO marketer. “No, use trade shows,” says the trade show marketer. “Forget all of that and invest in experiential marketing,” says the experiential marketer. “No way, you need to get involved in social networking,” says the social marketer.

Do you see the trend here? Every response is self-serving and pointless. No one is asking about objectives and target audiences and priorities and opportunities and challenges. No one is asking anything. Instead, everyone is out there pimping their services, slamming their business card on LinkedIn like a billboard along the freeway.

Okay, well I am getting really flustered, so please allow my to clarify my thinking and sum this up with three key points:

  1. Don’t ruin social media with stupidity.
  2. The solution to problems may be and probably is something other than what you specialize in.
  3. Lead with research and strategic planning, and follow with tactical implementation.

Jim Sweeney


Jim is a veteran of the agency industry and the founder of Sweeney. He is uncommonly passionate about the idea of creating and implementing insanely great marketing campaigns that achieve insanely great results. He pioneered the full-service, full-circle agency model and continues to forge new ideas in an ever-changing industry. And he is accessible to everyone about anything, seemingly all the time, serving as a mentor to all agency personnel and clients.