Marketing 2.0 gives me lurgy*…

As a marketing guy, I understand the need to name things. It gives tangibility to a concept, and that allows the concept to be marketed.

But I hate all this “2.0” sh*t. And “Marketing 2.0” is a good example of why.

I have several issues with the 2.0 moniker. First of all, it’s mostly defined by what it’s not, rather than what it is. Just as describing a chicken as “not a cow” is nonsensical, defining “Marketing 2.0” as not like “Marketing 1.0” is silly. But my bigger issue is that being “2.0” anything usually means throwing out everything that was part of “1.0”. I’m all for removing the dead wood, but throwing the baby out with the proverbial bathwater isn’t smart. It may come as a shock to some people, but direct mail and print advertising is actually still effective. For certain targets and products, it gets better results than eMarketing.

But it’s hard to imagine tactics that are more old school than direct mail and print ads…

Anyway. Why this rant today? I was in a meeting a few hours ago and someone asked me what I thought about “going viral”. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve heard, seen or read that all you need to do to ensure success is “go viral”.

To me, “going viral” is the 2.0 equivalent of my least favorite marketing concept: “to get the brand out there”. Fluffy marketing cr*p at its finest.

A good business knows what it costs to get a customer and how many customers they’re going to get next month (and the month after that). You get to that point by understanding your sales cycle and what the inputs are that drive your goals. The tool for driving and optimizing your sales cycle is marketing.

Marketing should aim to be a machine. $X in these places generates Y leads, which leads to Z sales and revenues of $A in B months. For example, perhaps $30k in CPC generates 1,000 leads, 25 sales and revenues of $75k over 4 months. You can then test to see if $45k generates 1,500 leads and correspondingly similar increases in sales and revenues.

While I’m simplifying a lot, the point is to test, see what works (and what doesn’t), scale, and test again. In theory (and life is never so simple) you then know what you need to spend on Marketing to hit a given sales target.

So why do I dislike “going viral”? First of all, it’s a result, not a process. You don’t “go viral” as an action, you end up with something that has gone viral. Hollywood has spent 100+ years trying to figure out what makes something go viral. Will all their billions of dollars, they have yet to figure it out… and no one else has either.

Secondly, you have no ability to consistently repeat or scale something that goes viral. So as a tool for reliably building your business, it’s useless.

By all means go ahead and create a video that might go viral. Just don’t try and build a company on the back of it.

* and if you didn’t know, “lurgy” is english slang for “disease”.