The Difference Between Virtual & Vital Marketing – RU 4 Real?

9 years ago by in Blog posts, Marketing & Communication Tagged: , , ,

As a marketer, you can only be one of two marketing types: the virtual marketing type or the vital marketing type. The difference lies in how you answer the question: RU 4 Real?  The ones that aren’t for real, are the virtual marketing types. By extension, the marketers that are for real are the vital marketing types.

To explain what this means (2b or not 2b 4 real), let me start by describing the virtual marketing type. Here follows the definition of the word virtual:

vir·tu·al (vûrchl) adj.

1. Existing or resulting in essence or effect though not in actual fact, form, or name.
2. Existing in the mind, especially as a product of the imagination. Used in literary criticism of a text.
3. Computer Science Created, simulated, or carried on by means of a computer or computer network.

Virtual marketing reminds me of Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of The Emperor’s New Clothes. Remember the story? It is about two weavers that convinced the emperor that they could:

“weave cloth of the most beautiful colors and the most magnificant patterns. Moreover, they said the clothes woven from this magic cloth could not be seen by anyone who was unfit for the office he held or who was very stupid. The beautiful clothes could only be seen by those who were fit for the office they held or who were very clever” (source: Virginia Lee Demetrios).

What a cunning little scheme that was. Because, as the weavers proceeded to ‘weave’ the emperor’s clothes (and got paid for it more than well, I imagine), no one would ever admit to not being able to see any progress. After all, who would want to denounce himself as unfit for office or as very stupid?

Much like the weavers in this story, the virtual marketing type promises great commercial fortune by rolling out the most beautiful marketing programs derived from the most magnificent marketing strategies. But instead of being accountable for the progress he promises, the virtual markting type does something else. He tries to convince his stakeholders that marketing is an art. That, no matter how certain its commercial successes, marketing cannot be measured scientifically. And it would be foolish to try to apply objective business rules to the art of marketing.

In line with Hans Christian Andersen’s story, the destiny of the virtual marketing type is ill-fated. It only took one child to call out that the emperor wasn’t wearing any clothes, for everyone else to see the truth. I think the virtual marketing types have been called out already. The C-Suite is finding it increasingly unacceptable for marketing expenditures to remain unaccounted for. They want to see tangibly profitable results from marketing.

Only in a final wave of resistance, virtual marketers track and produce all sorts of metrics that aim to divert their stakeholder’s attention from marketing’s real added value – Return On Investment. A growing number of CEOs and CFOs are seeing through the avalanche of indirect and inadequate profit indicators such as website statistics, return on engagement, brand awareness, and other exotic variations.

Which brings me to the vital marketing type. This type of marketer understands that marketing is both an art and a science. She is committed to make marketing a vital component – a vital organ if you will – in the company’s value chain. She realises that she can only accomplish this when she can prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that without marketing, the company’s profitability will be less. She proves this by linking marketing expenditures to real and actual marketing income, which ultimately results in a ‘hard’ Return On Investment.

Her reward is to be an equal partner amongst the other commercial actors, such as sales, business development, account management, et cetera. She is not the type to submissively produce brochures upon the request of sales. She is the first point of contact for the C-Suite when determining the company’s strategic commercial direction. She will even have a relatively easy  job maintaining or increasing her marketing budget – even when times are tough.

So which marketing type are you?


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