Probably the dumbest marketing of all time

Probably the dumbest marketing of all time

Panos Meyer
Thought byPanos Meyer
March 11, 2021
dumbest marketing

Artificial intelligence, media campaigns, Net Promoter Score: marketing departments of large companies work with all kinds of digital solutions and handle huge sums in the competition for market shares. What they lose sight of, however, are their customers. Yet it is so simple to serve the touchpoints along their customer journey.

A good 25 years ago I sat in a lecture hall for the first time in my life. Not just any lecture hall, it was the so-called "H1" of the prestigious Wilhelms University in Münster in Germany. I had the great fortune to be able to listen to the so-called Marketing Pope - Prof. Dr. Dr. hc Meffert. Anyone who was serious about marketing at that time could not get past Professor Meffert. 

Today, 25 years later, I have to admit: We have not become any smarter in marketing. I maintain that we have never had such bad marketing at all. 

Meffert defines marketing as an "entrepreneurial mindset" that should aim at a "lasting satisfaction of customer needs". When one looks at the countless failures of the big marketing departments today, one wonders if any of the decision-makers ever attended a lecture by Prof. Meffert or his junior professors. In many companies, the much-vaunted customer-centricity and the constantly quoted (digital) customer journey are merely empty phrases from the latest executive powerpoint presentation. But they are by no means lived customer orientation. 

The car company BMW is even founding an agency with the voluminous term "The Marcom Engine" and once again promises the marketing of the future; driven by artificial intelligence and digital DNA. The fact that BMW charges its customers a service fee of a few hundred euros to activate Apple Car Play - with a far better user experience than that of its own system - does not seem very progressive in comparison. Obviously, the Bavarians are still more concerned with the "joy of driving" than with the digital fuss that many customers want.

Without an engine, but with the ever-popular media campaigns, the ailing electronics store chain Media Saturn is trying to get out of the crisis before the next boss of the operating company Ceconomy also gives the old answers to new questions. The advertising slogan "Geiz ist geil" (stinginess is cool) had given Saturn a decent boost in 2002 - but here, too, old solutions do not eliminate new problems. Digital stinginess in the value chain leads to the end of the consumer temples of the 1990s. The 100th out-of-home campaign by the oh-so-creative advertising agency Dings und Bums won't help. 

At some point, marketing has become a farce.

The oft-cited image of a corner shop was once the blueprint for customer centricity. In a global economy, however, this example doesn’t work, as scaling up corner shops seems impossible. Nevertheless, many providers try and deliver a cookie or other technical finesse to create some kind of added value. 

The most important thing in the technical implementation of such solutions is lost in this way - namely the customer. Bulletproof terms and conditions and coordination with specialist departments are the focus of the people involved, but the simplest touchpoints of the customers along their customer journey are lost. Or why do car salespeople not even call their customers in a friendly manner after the first drive, but instead implore them to press ten in the automated Netpromoter score survey so that their provision fits? 

When even very digital companies like Sonos don't use existing data to make meaningful offers, something is going wrong. Or is the renewed discount on speakers I already own really serious? 

Digitalisation in marketing is obscuring our senses. 

Technology is the key to the marketing of the future, but not in the form implemented to date. The truth is that there is a digital divide. A gap between people in decision-making positions and what is technically possible. I believe that there is a lack of know-how among the top decision-makers to execute digital excellence.