Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Ten April Fool's Day Marketing Pranks.


The one that tries to get you to believe that all networks have the same hierarchical structure and contain special individuals who you can manipulate to lead their sheep-like followers to your product. Like celebrity endorsements but cheaper and without the sex scandals. You can even assign an ego-stroking numerical value to them. Ignores the fact that network structures are varied and varying and that people smell fakery a mile off.


The one that takes the maxim that a picture paints a thousand words and produces PDFs featuring multiple pictures and multiple words that paint themselves into a confusing corner. Data visualization that overlooks the fact that innumeracy is innumeracy even in the presence of pretty pictures,  that graph axes have to be labeled meaningfully and that few people will rememebr which brand produced it.

Big Data

The one that assumes more data must mean more insights and definitive causation. Appeals to marketers who think that the CEO and CFO will swoon at the sight of any number and will be as unaware of concepts like sample bias as they themselves are. More information doesn't mean more representative information. Data is hard. Hard data, doubly so.

Content Strategy

The one that sells omni-channel publishing as the apotheosis of that "markets are conversations" axiom from that book that surprsingly few modern marketers have actually read. This is broadcasting that focuses on the supply side of the equation when it should be looking at demand. Do people really want to read more committee-approved, brand-aligned advertorials or would you be better off worrying about customer discontent?


The one that self-delusional marketers espouse when they forget how they behave when they are customers/consumers/users and choose to overlook the real big data that debunks it. The data that shows that customers are fickle, that light users represent your largest audience and that mental and physical availability should be your focus.


The one that views media-literate customers as mindless drones who believe everything you say. Ignores the fact that it is they, not you, who decide what your brand means to them. Marketing that's not aligned with your corporate behaviour and your product/service performance may generate good prompted-recall figures, but it ultimately convinces no-one.

Growth Hacking

The one that supposedly does away with the need for marketing activity but is actually old-school marketing by anti-marketing geeks who don't realise they're doing marketing. Forgets the inalienable truth that Product has always been the first P of marketing.


The one that confuses immediacy with intimacy. Reactive marketing is nothing new, but the most important real-time is the time when customers want your attention to solve their problems. "Always on" means always being available on the customers' terms, not always interrupting them with your latest creative masterpiece.


The one that takes to extreme levels the feasible idea that some customers are buying your values rather than your product or service. Misunderstanding Mark Earls' purpose-idea  and Simon Sinek's why, it forgets that your true purpose is to meet customer needs with sincere conviction and not to boast about your latest CSR initiative.

Fan Pages

The one that takes the idea of customer relationships too literally and denies that the vast majority of social media behaviour is performative, that likes are about the liker not the likee and that shares and re-tweets don't drive traffic as much as presumed. Overcoming indifference is the name of the game - leave the pursuit of celebrity to the needy and the greedy.

So, that's ten that came to mind on the occasion of the eight anniversary of this blog. There are many more. Like the best pranks, they all contain an element of credibility that draws you in. But don't let that fool you.