Ditch the Digital Marketing Diets


January is a tricky time to be a marketer, unless you’re working with clients in the fitness or health sectors – then it’s a free-for-all. It’s a time when consumers are making often short-lived commitments and resolutions to do things like eat better, drink less, exercise more, or to (gasp) disconnect from technology. It’s also a time when marketing plans are being put in motion for the year… something that actually looks lot like a New Year resolution lists for the ad world. “We’re going to use social more!” “We’re going to be mobile optimised!”

Those are all great ideas, and they’re things brands should be talking about, but sadly they’re also like so many New Year’s resolutions: they don’t last. You’ll hear countless experts say “diets don’t work.” But, what do you mean diets don’t work? I see people get skinny all the time, you say. Those experts would argue that it’s not dieting that creates those lasting changes, it’s changes in behavior and practice.

So, then, why can’t brands and agencies use the same thinking when looking at shifting their marketing tack?

Drop the Fads

People love fads. Consumers, ad people, PR people, everyone – it’s built into our DNA. We want to be part of the “now” that drives popular culture and opinion. You see it with advertising all the time. Remember flash mobs? QR codes (which somehow keep making it into plans)? It’s not to say these things don’t deserve a slide in a pitch deck, but as part of a larger plan… not just a flash in the pan to show how “with it” you are.


Marketers as a whole spend a lot of time thinking about how to get consumers to do something they want – whether it’s buy a car, download an app, click a link, etc. What marketers (myself included) can do in 2014 to help buck the trend of constantly changing tactics is to get ahead of the consumer with research and studies aimed at pinpointing behaviors and planning for the future.

Measure (The Right) Things, But Not Everything

Big data, while a sexy-sounding term, is actually doing more harm than good in the marketing world right now. The “the more data the better” thought has created a digital gold rush of sorts to be the brand/agency with “the most data on [insert topic/audience/etc. here].” While data are great (<3 Data), there’s something to be said for having core metrics and KPIs in place that you can then use structured data sets to measure. This idea that going out and grabbing simply as much data as you can about audiences, markets, and outcomes simply creates (in most cases) data paralysis.

Use the Mirror More

There are many studies out there that actually point to scales being a negative part of getting healthy, mostly because people become number-obsessed and don’t spend enough time looking at and feeling the changes that are actually going on. The same can be said for digital marketing. Along with the data flood that’s clouding PPT docs everywhere, has come the rise of the “ultra-plugged-in performance watcher.” There’s nothing wrong with real-time data, but when you’re nit-picking campaigns in real-time and not giving them the chance to run their course, you run the risk of not only fatiguing your team, but missing out on opportunities.  

That’s all I’ve got… I’m off to do 1,000 digital crunches.