In a past issue of  Target Marketing, Bob Bly wrote an article titled “Sometimes Old-School is Better”. The main point of the article was that as journalist and writer, he promoted the importance of checking facts – and that doesn’t mean just doing a Google search, compiling numerous resources and just reinventing the same content assuming someone did the fact checking previously.

Content consolidators and search engines have made it so easy to find and promote content,  that his general sense is that writers and content creators have become lazy — relying only on online information and not doing due diligence to follow up on the facts with good old fashioned research. As I read the article, I clearly saw the parallel with what is happening in the marketing world – we are becoming lazy.

With all the do-it-yourself tools, and drop-and-drag build your website applications, we relying on those tools to do our “fact checking.” What I mean by that is that we are no longer spending the necessary time planning, clarifying our messaging, building our story, reviewing data and research before we start the tactics. Many companies have the “build it and they will come” mentality. They think that having a website is the only thing they need and don’t want to spend the time and effort to develop it as a valuable marketing tool. They see it as necessary marketing activity but that it takes up time and money they don’t have or want to spend. So they create sites with free tools that may not support their goals, provide the image they want or care if their site is working to provide them return.

The same is true for email marketing, social media and trade shows.

Unfortunately the general idea for email marketing is too often to just send it out to as many email addresses as possible and rely on the standard 2% response. If you sent emails to enough people you will get some customers, right? Well, probably, but with the CAN-SPAMM law, blasting out 10,000 emails from purchased lists is no longer legal. So what is the option? We have to build our lists through other activities — those that require “sign-ups” and “opt-ins”, but that takes time. The lazy way out is to still blast out general emails to entire lists even if spending time to really evaluate the people on the list and figure out what they are interested in would create better conversion rates.

Social media is another area where we constantly talk with businesses that say, “I know I need to be on social media”….really? Why? Most businesses and small business owners don’t really know when we ask that question whether social media will work for them or not — or even which social medial channels they should focus on. So they generally create more channels then they clearly have time to manage and can’t make any of them work because they are spread too thin. They have gotten lazy about spending the time thinking through and validating the activity as valuable for their business. They just rely on the messaging from marketing companies that they need to be doing social media. Many times, narrowing down the channels (or eliminating them completely and focusing on other things) creates better results.

Trade shows are one of those activities the people either love or hate. For the marketing teams it is usually hate, because they have to spend the time to create the branding, messaging, collateral, deal with last minute crisis, etc. while the sales teams love to just show up and network. The biggest issue we have seen with trade shows is non-alignment between marketing and sales on their purpose and value. For marketing, show success is the signage showing up and the free candy not running out, but the sales team needs qualified leads. The problem is that there often is no definition  for  qualified “sales” leads and activities at the show that will generate those. We, as marketeers, have gotten lazy in asking questions, doing our research, and justifying the need to go to shows. We don’t spend enough time working with the sales team to build marketing activities that really provide them the qualified leads they want.