Influence people

Monday, December 18, 2017

Killing Marketing: Dead on Arrival


I'm a fan of Joe Pulizzi, coauthor with Robert Rose of the new 260-page book Killing Marketing

So I wish I could recommend it.

I can't.

The big idea behind the book―that businesses can convert marketing from overhead into profit―is preposterous; not because it's so wrongheaded, but because it's so thoroughly unrealistic.

Were the idea not preposterous, you'd find more real-world examples than the handful the authors can cite (although I'm flattered they include mention of the magazine I launched for the Society of Fire Protection Engineers, Fire Protection Engineering.)


The "killing" in the title, by the way, is word-play. The authors want you to kill your marketing operation and replace it with a killer media company. (That, or the authors are targeting Bill O'Reilly's audience.)

Killing Marketing argues you can profitably sell the content that drives your marketing, like any media company does.

Sell your content? At a profit? Hell, most organizations can't give it away.

The book further argues you can transform your in-house marketers into crackerjack journalists and media moguls who can "monetize" your audiences.

Fat chance.

When it comes to marketing their products, most businesses indeed "throw good money after bad," as the authors say: they deploy tactics without an underlying strategy; invest in tactics that do not work; and drop successful tactics without forethought.

But to ask every business to "create and distribute non-product-related content" is like asking your auto mechanic to produce Cars, your barber to stage Hair, or your lawnmower to publish Better Homes & Gardens.

Ain't gonna happen.

Yes, LEGO profits from LEGO Club Magazine; Red Bull, from Red Bulletin; and the Society of Fire Protection Engineers, from Fire Protection Engineering

But could a single additional organization in those markets replicate that success? Probably not.


A logician would say the authors have written an entire book based on the fallacy known as the "argument from small numbers." Arguments from small numbers go like this:

After treatment with our new drug, one-third of the mice were cured, one-third died, and the third mouse escaped. So if we treat 1,000 mice, 333 will be cured.

The gist of Killing Marketing goes something like this:

Marketing-campaigns-turned-into-media-ventures by six organizations became profitable. So if you mimic them, yours can be profitable too.

With apologies to Hugh FullertonSaying it don't make it so, Joe.
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