A Visit from the Spirits of Marketing Past

A LinkedIn Marketing Carol: Day 2

December 15, 2015

Just as Scrooge was warned by Jacob Marley’s ghost in Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," we informed you in Monday’s blog post that marketing spirits would be visiting this blog to help us become more like Scrooge in our marketing -- not the miserly Scrooge, but the transformed Scrooge who, after the visits from the ghosts, embraced life with joy and generosity.

Today, we have three Spirits of Marketing Past to show us what elements of yesterday’s marketing are still valid in our data-driven, digital age. Read on to uncover what advice these wise spirits have to offer:

Matt Heinz, President, Heinz Marketing

In B2B marketing (as it is in B2B sales as well), what’s “old” is often new. Lessons and best practices from the past are helping today’s B2B marketers create differentiation and deliver performance in their pipelines.

Marketers present and future would do well to study the great marketers of the past – innovators like Claude Hopkins, Charles Mackay, Eugene Schwartz, Victor Schwab and so many others. Read them together and you’ll notice many of the same themes emerging, among them:

  • Customer mastery. Know your buyers better than they know themselves. Study their psychology, their habits, their motivations. Know the ecosystem into which you are selling and they are buying.
  • Great stories. Master marketers from the past knew that mobilizing buyers required inspiring and igniting their minds with stories – stories about what could be, or what will be, if they take action.
  • Great copy. Copy that’s buyer-centric, that’s more often casual and approachable, copy that drives readers to think and act.
  • Great execution. This has always been about trying new ideas, testing before broad launches, accepting that the path to success and innovation is paved with failure. The masters knew their margin of error in tests would be high, but they kept going, kept innovating, kept executing until they found success.

Lee Odden, CEO, TopRank Online Marketing

Think back, marketers. Do you remember? Do you remember when we used to get so many leads from search engines we literally had to post a “Not accepting new customers” note on our contact page?  

(Note: I actually had to do this in 2007). 

Back in those days, we were free from the distractions of things like Snapchat, the Internet of Things, and Oculus Rift. We focused on creating really useful content optimized for both search engines and business buyers. In fact, we approached search marketing with three timeless principles:

  • Smart. Data and customer insight informed our hypothesis about which tactics would move the placement of our content up where buyers could easily find the information needed to make decisions. Continuous data collection, analysis and optimization of content, keywords and links made us smarter about what actually worked vs. relying solely on echo chamber forums and pontificating brandividuals.  
  • Creative. Effective SEO speaks “human" as well as it does “algorithm” and the only way to achieve both with the same content is by being creative. Creative writing and visuals are essential for the human side of SEO, because they attract links, shares and engage visitors to become buyers. Technical creativity works too, like dynamically writing title tags with reverse breadcrumb navigation text or populating image alt text from keyword-rich file names. We can’t talk about some of the most clever SEO tactics, but there’s always room for creative solutions that result in making it easier for both search engines and buyers to find and engage with great business content.  
  • Results. Great visibility on search engines isn’t worth much if B2B buyers don’t click through, visit your web page and make an inquiry. Focusing on delivering relevant organic search traffic to target landing pages is just the start for timeless SEO. Alignment of keyword topics with business buyer interests expressed through content increases click-through rates on search result pages (SERPs) and supports the searcher experience. Great SEO delivers more than traffic -- it helps deliver a great customer experience and marketing performance.  

Sticking with these principles of the past will make you excited about your B2B marketing of the present! Just be smart, creative and continuously focused on results with SEO, and you’ll find even more inspiration to be a great B2B marketer now and in the future.

Doug Kessler, Creative Director, Velocity Partners

Under pressure to improve our marketing metrics and tune our demand generation machines, we're in danger of forgetting the most important thing: the power of the big idea. Too many marketing teams act as if they could simply inject their “messaging architectures" into the target audience's consciousness, without earning their way into it.

A Spirit of Marketing Past said it best:

“It takes a big idea to attract the attention of consumers and get them to buy your product. Unless your advertising contains a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night. I doubt if more than one campaign in a hundred contains a big idea.” -- David Ogilvy

Heed this advice, marketers. And sit tight until the clock strikes midnight to be visited by three more spirits with marketing lessons from the present.

Marketing lessons presented by industry influencers are in your near furture. Subscribe to our blog to keep up with the entire #MarketingCarol story!