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Prolific North Live and learning when 'sexy marketing' isn't sexy

By Sam Turner March 07, 2017 Sexy marketing One quick tip Growth marketing

Way back in February, I was at Prolific North Live, a marketing event in the cavernous EventCity in Manchester. Last time I was here it was filled with all manner of baby paraphernalia, including actual babies, so PNL was a comparatively mundane, sane experience.

Marketers may be dangerous but they don’t projectile vomit at you without warning. Usually.

The first two talks I attended were instructive of a marketing problem long-lived and probably never dying.

The ‘sexy marketing problem’ is a condition a bit similar to one that afflicts babies actually, so maybe there are more similarities than you’d think.

Most marketers love something new and sexy. Like babies and new toys.

Mention an emerging social network that could be ‘the new Facebook’ and they’ll sign up without question. Talk to them about disaster planning or data protection and they’ll glaze over faster than a Krispy Kreme.

To that end, the first talk by Steve Kuncewicz of solicitors Slater + Gordon highlighted the marketing problems with ‘fake news’ and litigation. What exactly does happen if your brand goes so off message you get sued? Donald Trump was cited as an example.

The second talk by Steve Wooley of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) highlighted data protection. You’ll have to excuse me for fudging the stats but a ‘majority’ of marketers asked by CIM whether they understood data protection rules said no, yet only somewhere around 20% of those same marketers felt they needed more training.

You don’t need a degree in data to know there’s a disconnect there.

But preparing for a non-existent crisis and knowing what you can and can’t do with data are unsexy and therefore uninteresting to the common or garden marketing department or board of directors. Not only that, but they’re loss leaders. Work on a PR disaster plan will not produce an ROI. A social media policy will not generate new leads.

And for those reasons, we know that firms typically don’t want to do them and that internal marketers who recognise the need can struggle to get unsexy activities, such as the above, onto the agenda.

But the fact is that it could save your job, your marketing and the business you work for.

Persona creation is perhaps the area where we most frequently come across the ‘non-sexy’ problem. Personas (essentially a refined, detailed version of your target market) are difficult to complete and need work at the client end.

No matter how well we know your target market, you know it better. A good persona allows us to target that market throughout all of your marketing. It isn’t sexy, it takes upfront work, but it makes a huge difference. It’s the same thing with PR disaster plans and data protection rules.

Just ask those who don’t have them and then encounter problems. Sexy marketing is useless if you no longer have a business to promote.

One quick tip: do a quick ‘marketing inventory’. What ‘unsexy’ documentation should you have, but don’t? If the first item on the list is ‘a documented strategy’ then don’t worry, you’re not alone. But also: probably time that one made it to the top of the agenda.

Sam Turner

Sam Turner

Sam has responsibility for ClientsFirst’s inbound and content marketing, as well as helping clients to execute their own marketing campaigns and produce engaging copy. He has a background in blogging, copywriting and social media and is always on the lookout for a story or an emerging social technology. A keen traveller, when not in front of a computer keyboard, Sam can be found planning his next trip away or, closer to home, back in front of a keyboard writing something covering film and TV.

Demonstrating ROI to the board