For the love of God, please stop marketing

Look, here’s the truth.

Fundamentally, the real reason your company doesn’t grow has nothing to do with the marketing being right. The reason your idea falls flat is not about your follower count. Right now, your problem is more fundamental than that.

Go to any event and you’ll see sponsors. Get on any bus and you’ll see billboards. Go to any website and you’ll see ads. Yet nobody clicks on these things, and nobody admits to being convinced by advertising.

But they’re being convinced by something. They’re trying new drinks and looking at new websites. They’re watching new movies and switching providers. Why are they doing these things?

Fundamentally, the entire marketing industry is slowly working itself into a hole. Any effective tactic gets discovered by spammers and is affected by the tragedy of the commons. Soon, you have to move again because what you do isn’t working anymore.

Yet at the same time, some books become classics. Some companies get acquired. Some websites “go viral.” Why?

1. The best idea;

2. the simplest delivery;

3. the largest platform.

Anything else is secondary. FACT.





24 responses to “For the love of God, please stop marketing”

  1. Josh Muirhead Avatar

    Excellent post Julien,

    I’ve talked around the same points you just made for a while.

    “Outdoor ads are working, we’re going on Twitter.” Well, they must be working for some people, because you still see them everywhere, and Twitter actually doesn’t have an incredibly good success rate (for all those business people on there)

    It’s often the simplest things that create the biggest result.

    Thanks for sharing,

  2. Brian Clark Avatar

    The idea plus the simple delivery plus creating the platform is the marketing. It’s often quite complicated. 😉

  3. Tanner Christensen Avatar

    You don’t get to be the largest or best by idling around though.

    You can have one of the “best” and simplest ideas on one of the largest networks, but if you’re not marketing initially you aren’t going to grow to diddly squat.


  4. todd schnick Avatar

    why can’t people keep things simple? why God why?

  5. Diane Danielson Avatar
    Diane Danielson

    I agree with simplification. But sometimes the best ideas lose out because of timing (too early or too late) or not connecting to the right audience. When I boil down marketing to its core for clients, it’s about communicating the right message to the right audience at the right time and nowadays, it also has to be “on the right platform.” That’s how you will discover that you have the best idea. It may be simple, but often it isn’t very easy.

  6. Matthew Avatar

    Bullshit is still bullshit, even if it’s shiny and half-price.

  7. Sean Feretycki Avatar

    I see where you’re coming from, and in principle agree. All the marketing communication in the world won’t save a product or service when it’s terrible. But I’ve always worked under the assumption that marketing is more than communications. When marketing is done properly you’re also looking at the product/service itself, and enhancing the offering. You’re looking at how you deliver it, where, when, and with which ancillary services or complimentary products. Those people who limit their marketing to communications are quite simply doing it wrong.

    I’ve always felt that marketing is, first and foremost, the process of determining what your customers want, and giving it to them exactly that way.

  8. Seth Avatar

    How very “Godinesk”. But, pretty darn accurate. Society is on info-overload. We block out billboards, commercials, etc. What works today due to novelty may not work tomorrow because it’s seen as old-hat and outdated. I think it takes a pattern interrupt to cut through the clutter. Whether that’s a traditional advertising medium, or a new web-based approach, the difference is creativity and cutting through the abundance of noise.

  9. Tony D Avatar

    One thing I notice, as soon as I stop posting craigslist ads, I stop getting business.

    Marketing a product that sucks doesn’t do anyone anything good at all.

  10. Angel Avatar

    Online ads are clicked all the time…by other marketers.

  11. NomadicNeill Avatar

    I think this is why so much marketing is becoming education.

  12. George Levy Avatar

    Great post and you bring up some very interesting points… The whole “marketing” term has taken on a bad taste and yes – a lot of it has to do with what you describe as “Any effective tactic gets discovered by spammers and is affected by the tragedy of the commons. Soon, you have to move again because what you do isn’t working anymore.”

    As a professional online marketer, it keeps me constantly having to evaluate and readjust my company’s marketing actions seeing how to effectively deliver on increased visibility of our products… Breaking through the “wall of marketing noise pollution” out there from all the competing marketing messages, and then build and continue a long term relationship with those customers beyond the initial contact.

    Still, in a very effective way, your Blog post did a phenomenal job of “marketing” you and I’m getting to know about you because you delivered something of value which I found quite interesting via a ReTweet.

    I guess looking at it from that perspective, you got your message out and there still is room for marketing – just not for the overdone “hammering people over the head” with email messages, banner interruptions and pointless commercial messages.

    Taking marketing from THAT perspective, I completely agree… For the love of God, please stop marketing.


    PS – First time on your blog… It’s sweet looking 🙂

  13. Patrick Allmond Avatar

    When you are being social, when you are nurturing leads, when you are “Joining the conversation” (I have hard time not throwing up when I say that phrase) you are “marketing”. >>> It is just a different kind of marketing. It is not new, and it is not amazing. We have not turned into a “new economy” <<< It is just a different standard of doing business that smart businesses make a conscious decision to do. It compliments push-marketing, and both are needed to generate awareness about your company and your expertise. That awareness is the very first step to get someone to even pay attention to the long-term nurturing which I think most of your reader believe in.

    Banner ads are not dead. They work great. Banner ads lead to my site all of the time, and the banners on my site are clicked all of the time.

  14. Ryan G Avatar

    @Seth that is so true. How to filter the noise. I think Julien did a post about that some time ago come to think of it.

    Marketing is really inevitable if you think about it. We need it. How else would we come to know about things if people didn’t talk about it with others?

  15. Ryan Critchett Avatar

    This is a big deal. It seems we don’t see changes as they happen. But it’s happening. Retention is becoming more important. Being awesome really matters and.. while it’s more challenging, I’d rather have it this way.

  16. Patrick Allmond Avatar


    Retention and the soft-sell/nurturing has always been important. There are a million blogs out there telling people that we are undergoing a radical shift in marketing and social media is changing the world. I can promise you that long term customer relationships and engagement was just as important 30 years ago when I was 13 as it is now . It was not expressed with blog posts, fan pages and twitter accounts. But it was there and made a difference as to where my family shopped.

    Today we have technology to thank for the making the work smaller and faster. Classic marketing concepts that have worked offline for generations will also work online. Overdone in-your-face advertising was annoying 100 years ago, and it is still annoying now. The unfortunate part of that is that it works on certain segment of the population. Hence my previous comment – we need a mixture of both.


  17. Steve Garfield Avatar

    What is working is brand advertising. Tim Street:

    “Brand advertising is inherently anti-action. It’s about building awareness. It’s not anything resembling cost-per-click or cost-per-action. It’s an ad on the Superbowl or Desperate Housewives. It’s sponsoring the X-Games or a Music Festival. Brand Advertising is associating your brand with another brand and hoping the coolness rubs off.”


    My take:
    When I bought a new kitchen floor, I bought it from Lumber Liquidators because I’ve heard 1,000 ads from them over the years. They are advertising behind home plate at all the Red Sox games. So when it was time for me to look into flooring, I looked at Lumber Liquidators because Bob Villa bought his Bellawood floor for his own kitchen there.

  18. Mark Avatar

    “Kamaswami conducted his business with care and often with passion, but Siddhartha looked upon all of this as if it was a game, the rules of which he tried hard to learn precisely, but the contents of which did not touch his heart.” The Kamaswamis fall into the abyss when they mistake the game (marketing) for the reality (relationship).

    Nothing kills business (and people) like the desire for money.

  19. Mitch Joel - Twist Image Avatar

    I think you’re confusing “marketing” with “advertising”. I also think you’re assuming that every product sits in a market of one.

    Marketing – at the fundamental level – is about the Four Ps (Product, Pricing, Placement and Promotion), so you’re net result is right, but it leaves out the “promotion” part and this is the one you’re raging against. Some of the best products never caught any traction because they had an inability to promote it (and yes, one of the subsets of promotion is advertising).

    When you have a simple product (bathtub cleaner, let’s say), what is your competitive advantage? Even if you have one, you do have to let people know about it. If you’re an airline and you’re having a seat sale, you have to let the general public know about it. If you have a favourite band and they’re coming to town, they have to promote the event, so that you will be aware when to buy tickets. Yes, your friends and ability to follow the band make mass advertising less critical, but the band is still advertising.

    The problem is that there are very mediocre products repeating their messages in many places in a not-so-engaging way. I would not confuse bad advertising to begging people to stop marketing.

  20. Peter Paluska Avatar

    Yes. It is a very tricky business indeed. Which means it is worth doing well.

  21. Wilson Usman Avatar

    I like your point of view. But why do they spend so much money on it every single year and they put more and more money each year.

    Have you seen the numbers on

    I mean, I’m not a professional online marketer or anything, but I think the people that run some of these campaigns are pretty smart.

    Honestly sometimes I don’t think marketing is as bad as people make it out to be, as long as is targeted to me I don’t mind it at all. I actually find something new that benefits me in a lot of cases. Yes it gets annoying to have 10 different companies marketing to me the same product, but that way I can make the best decision (at least that I think I’m making conciously) of which company/product/service to choose.

  22. Paul Avatar

    When did marketing and promotion become one and the same thing?

    This article is talking about promotion only in my opinion.

    Great marketing is so much more than just an ad on a website, sponsoring an event or a big billboard that you can see from the bus.

    Marketing ≠ Only Promotion

  23. dang tin Avatar

    Marketing is really inevitable if you think about it. We need it. How else would we come to know about things if people didn’t talk about it with others?

  24. Rick Avatar

    This reminds me of permission marketing all over again. It’s not effective to hound the people that are already getting blasted with 1000+ marketing/ad messages a day. On the other hand, I actively seek out the advice of those I trust and want to read from… even if they wouldn’t consider it marketing.

    Great reminder as I start to build out my platform. Of the 3 bullet points you mention, ideas and platform are going to be my focus points.

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