Marketing facts that have become myths

The marketing function has evolved so much in the last 10 years that what used to be taken as gospel is no longer applicable. This is because marketing has had to adapt in order to keep pace with societal changes.

Let’s take a look at some of the conventional marketing “truths” that have since become fallacies.

Fact Myth Lever Shows Correct Honest Answers by Stuart Miles courtesy of

Brand managers own brand conversations

Once upon a time, brand managers owned brands. They had full control over how a brand was perceived and what people said about the brand. They had the luxury of positioning brands without fearing that someone might contradict them and therefore influence others away from the brand.

Those were the pre-digital marketing days.

Digital marketing has given consumers a voice to affect not only the image of a brand but also its fortunes. Social media has provided a platform for consumers to generate conversations about brands that either enhance brand equity or undermine it.

In other words, consumers have taken ownership of brands and, if brand Managers do not wrestle back control, consumers will drive brand strategy. Digital marketing platforms make it possible for brand managers to set the record straight in real time.

Advertising is slow-burn

Traditionally, advertising was seen as a long-term, slow-burn process that influences perceptions and creates belief over time. This was because there was no immediate way to gauge whether the message had landed with the target audience or not.

There was also no way to gain insight into consumers’ daily interactions with brands. There was no way of listening in on and being part of consumer conversations about advertising.

Thanks to digital marketing, marketers are now able to get instant feedback on their marketing efforts and gauge whether their communication is a hit or a miss.

Advertising is profitable

There was a time when agency founders and agency managing directors became very wealthy from running advertising agencies. This was evidenced by ownership of sports cars, wine farms and game farms, as well as coastal holiday homes. Today, these trappings of success are a rare sight in adland.


Cost management and margin protection have become as important as driving top line growth. There are a number of factors driving this:

  1. The cost of acquiring and retaining talent has risen considerably.
  2. The rise of procurement has led to a margin squeeze and a commoditisation of our craft.
  3. Insourcing of certain functions has resulted in revenue erosion

It’s all about the work

For the longest time, agency heads held the belief that “it’s all about the work; everything else is secondary.” The argument was that agencies are nothing without creative.

I get it and I agree; we are brought together by our love for creative excellence. But the world has moved and the ad industry is not as profitable as it used to be.

Clients are no longer satisfied with great creative works that brings them fame. They demand more. We are now enjoined to demonstrate a return on marketing investment, to deliver savings and to put more of our fee at risk.

These external shocks have necessitated a debate around what is more important between creative excellence and value creation. This debate is misdirected.

We are not comparing apples with apples. The two are not mutually exclusive; instead, they are both important. Creative excellence is a driver and value creation is an outcome.

An outcome is a goal. This goal is made possible by a myriad of drivers such as creative excellence, cost management, organic growth and so forth. Of these drivers, creative excellence is the most important to agencies.

It is possible to have more than one business outcome; however, the most important of these is value creation. Businesses exist to create shareholder and client value.

In the new world order, value creation and creative excellence are equally important and therefore must be seen as the twin peaks of success by all agencies.

Loyalty means monogamy

For a long time, brand managers made the mistake of assuming that consumer loyalty was monogamous. In other words, it was assumed that consumers find one brand that meets all their needs and commit to that brand to the exclusion of all other brands in the category.

Research has since proved that this is not so.

Consumers in most, if not all product categories, have a repertoire of three brands that they consume at any given time. It is very rare to come across a consumer who is only loyal to one brand. Of the three, one brand might enjoy disproportionately more prominence than the other two but the repertoire is alive and kicking.

Added to this is the fact that brands are not as important and sacrosanct to consumers as many of us believe they are. Consumers can do without our brands. We all need to remember that brands fit into consumers’ lives, and not the other way around.


Written by PH

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