Saturday, 13 June 2009

No 'marketers' in Top 50 Marketing Blogs

I don't like to discuss blog lists too much due to the contention surrounding them but they are a very informative way for newbies to bookmark links and become aware of the array of quality free citizen-generated content available. The lists can often be criticised of being subjective to the composer and can cause disappointment to those not included on them. They can enforce status and hierarchy within online communities that should strive to be flat. Nevertheless, anti-listers are hypocritical because they enjoy being included on such lists and the accolade does make its way into the individual's speaker bio and the like. So, with the recent launch of B&T's Top 50 Marketing Blogs, I did enjoy having the blog section of the site I edit, come in at sixth, and this 'thing' coming in at 46th. And a heartfelt thanks to the guys for including us.

Today I revisited the list, however, to scroll through the rest of the Top 50 and to see how people fared. Knowing many of the inclusions off the top of my head, and having met many of the bloggers personally, something stood out. And that was that everyone on it, wasn't actually a marketer. The list is therefore a Top 50 Marketing Blogs without marketers. I know this could sound absurd, so I should explain what I mean by a 'marketer'. This is someone who has the word 'marketer' in their title or whose main role is to serve in a marketing capacity. Yes, we all have elements of marketing in our roles, but are we marketers? For instance, the list includes many agency adland types, PR gurus, digital strategists, social media strategists, online evangelists, general commentators and (copy)writers but I couldn't recall any marketers. We exist to help marketers – our 'clients' – under the marketing umbrella, but don't directly function in the same capacity as marketers. This is a case echoed by my work on a publication for marketers – it's difficult to get marketers to do the talking or writing, as one, they don't want to give away IP or competitive advantages and secondly, they are busy people. It's also a similar scenario at events – it's mainly the agency's voice or periphery businesses presenting – it's difficult to lock in marketers who aren't in the B2B space with something to sell!

I think one of the gaps for me in the Australian marketing blogosphere is the result of this. There aren't really any strategic business-marketing blogs. Blogs which look at ROI, metrics, other mediums outside the current sexiness of social media such as direct or database marketing, brand management (and by this I don't mean a logo or packaging), research, channel management/distribution and most importantly, sales! Actually I think 70% resolve around social media and 99% digital in some way. Only natural for online it seems.

I once stumbled across FMCG and though the blog doesn't appear to be longer updated, was amazed at the scope of such a thing. It was written by a FMCG marketer for FMCG marketers. Imagine that! There are a huge number of marketers working in FMCG-client side, yet there aren't any blogs dedicated to transferring knowledge and experience in this area outside the creative aspect.

Some bloggers do include case studies that are useful strategic tools but again, these are mainly of digital or social media campaigns and are light on results with a skew towards creative execution. In a case of the echo chamber, bloggers who start off blogging about their area of expertise often migrate over to full-time social media after several posts because they are drawing inspiration from social media.

While I am not offering solutions or even posing that it really is a problem at this point in time, I would like to see the gap bridged between marketers and what I'll call content producers and at least, have the producers address more issues that are applicable to marketers.

To not rain completely on the parade, I would like to finish by saying congratulations to Australian marketing bloggers for their part in building the community and for the list composers for dedicating their effort.


  1. thats a valid point. most of the blogs i read are digital / social media focused, including my own. perhaps the list should be renamed to "digital marketing and social media blogs top 50"?

  2. Marketers don't blog? I bet you'll find they don't read them, either. Which begs the question - who is everyone writing for?

  3. Haha @David – yes, we're all writing for ourselves. Well, I know I am. We laugh at the fact that blogs were once 'online diaries' but could they now just be 'online diaries with comments and hot Wordpress templates'?

  4. Those who can, do.
    Those who can't, teach.
    And those who can't teach, write marketing blogs.

  5. Great piece Kate, although I'm not sure if I should be insulted or complimented by the fact I'm not a marketer. ;]

  6. A product of the medium I'd suggest. Blogs are a primary social media channel, meaning a skew towards social media as a topic is always likely. Mind you, I completely agree a greater breadth of marketing topics could only be beneficial to the blogosphere.

    I think it's also worth considering that not everyone who blogs about social media works in the industry full time. Social media is only a component of my agency role. I also work with clients in areas such as email marketing, SEO, SEM & conversion. But I prefer to write about social because I find it more interesting on a personal level.

    So in conclusion, I definitely consider myself a marketer :)

  7. plus social media is a hot topic, hence everyone wants to write about it. social media sounds a lot more interesting to read & write about then FMCG marketing for example.

    you might find a different perspective with print. I'm sure B&T, adnews, marketing mag etc.. is more geared towards offline (or a more balanced approach) due to the audience. whereas your blogs and marketing websites have more digital / social media content.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. @Justin – I mentioned '(copy)writers' in the piece too, so yes I would come under the writer wing and not a marketer in this instance.

    Although, I have worked in actual marketing roles before, as I'm sure have many others on the list, so really it is just about the technicality of us not having currently the word marketer in our titles!

    And to reiterate (and in my marketing-skewed mind), basically every one on the planet acts in a marketing capacity in whatever role they do (eg. a librarian is still promoting certain books to users), but that doesn't necessarily make them a marketer.

    And just as I have noticed in the writing/editing/journalism space, often people call themselves writers and editors when they have never worked as one, well professionally anyway... but that's the beauty of the online world I guess – you can be and say who you want to be! ;-P

  10. Insightful post Kate!

    I would consider myself a marketer, and I'm sure others on the list would too.

    But indeed, there is a serious absence of marketers employed on the client side writing blogs.

  11. Ok I love this post and as a client side "brand and marketing manager" who has recently joined the blogosphere I thought I should give our point of view as to why more of us aren’t doing it!

    Time: You are right Kate, since starting my blog the first question I have had from my colleagues is “where the hell do you find the time?”

    IP: We have to keep IP close to our chest (I can never discuss in my posts details of what we are doing at the Bank).

    What blogs?: David Campbell is right. Clients don’t read them, primarily because they don’t know what an RSS reader is. Next time you are with a client ask them to show you their RSS. Trust me they don’t exist.

    How do I blog?: Wordpress is really easy to use right? Bullshit, it took me ages to figure our how to set up and post anything respectable. Clients pay agencies to do that stuff.

    How do I optimise?: I have read blogs up to my eyeballs on this and I am still confused, I have quality sites linking to my blog, why does my Google Page Rank = 0 (Any help much appreciated!!). Again clients pay agencies to do that stuff .

    The solution:
    This is simple, everyone who made the list has to help ONE of their clients start a blog (and set up a RSS reader!). That would be 50 client side marketing bloggers joining the fold. Once you get them started, watch them go! It has definitely been one of the more rewarding things I have done.

  12. Thanks for your feedback Chris and I love the solution too, plus you've just given me a great tactic for getting more of our print audience online. ;-)

    I actually don't spend much time viewing my own RSS reader, but that's because I've saturated it with thousands of items as I don't want to miss anything. It now defeats the purpose as I miss everything that doesn't get posted onto Twitter!

    I completely agree though – it is definitely the all-important stepping stone into the blogosphere. It organises and saves time.

    Also, good work on the blog setup. I've RSS'd it... but don't worry I've got you on Twitter so I will read it! I've been meaning to do the WP thing for a while and have got the vanity URL registered, but it's hard to leave Google when they make everything so easy and integrated.

  13. I agree re the RSS reader. I'm about to put a few blogs on notice. Today I opened it to find 617 updates from Trend Hunter...I love them but are you friggen kidding me!

  14. Going to pay devil's advocate here. Yay - always more fun.

    I, for one, am a marketing manager who has created client-side blogs. My personal blog (which, yes, is devoted to copywriting and non client-side observations) is #15 in B&Ts list, but I used my experience in creating that blog to start ones for Netregistry and PlanetDomain directed at their customers.

    And guess what? The customers read them. Although the numbers are still catching up with my own older blog, the rate of new subscribers signing on is much faster than mine.

    Of course, certain industries will have customers that are savvier to things like RSS etc, but come on - be honest - how hard is it to put a couple of lines in the subscribe section explaining the concept? And when services like Feedburner allow you to offer email subscriptions quickly and easily, RSS becomes unnecessary. Everyone knows how to type their email into a box and hit a button.

    So yeah, I disagree that clients don't read blogs because they don't understand RSS. It's our job to help them understand and make the process simple for them to sign up.

    I also take issue with the "I have no time" argument. If a marketing dept has a firm marketing goal that is achievable by blogging, then they need to make the time. If they don't have a goal, then what are they doing blogging?

    When creating an email campaign or a television commercial or any other traditional marketing activity, a marketer wouldn't say they don't have the time to produce it. That's the job, after all. They just allocate resources, schedule and delegate so that the tasks can be achieved on deadline. So either sceptical marketers don't feel blogging actually has a marketing goal worthy of allocating resources - in which case why do it at all - or it indicates that blogging is not to be considered as seriously as more traditional marketing techniques.

    Now THERE are a couple of wide-ranging discussions...

  15. Kimota,

    Congrats on your blog success and its great to see you helping businesses do the same.

    When I talked about lack of time I was referring to marketing managers starting their own personal blogs to discuss client side marketing strategy.

    But you are right if it is a blog for their business, time isnt an issue as the business allows them time to do it during their work day.

    In addition to NetRegistry and PlanetDomain, Telstra's 'now were talking' is another great example of clients using blogs for their businesses.


  16. Thanks for the clarification Chris, although I would say the question is still the same. If it is a personal blog, there should still be a compelling reason for doing it that justifies finding the time - even if that reason is pure ego or self promotion. My personal blog is done in evenings because it isn't directly a work initiative. I'm willing to do it in the evenings because I feel it benefits me and my career - that's my goal and it's working. That's why I'm willing to make time a couple of nights a week to do it (usually when the wife is watching Desperate Housewives or Grey's Anatomy or something equally vacuous ;-) )

    It's important to separate personal bogs from work related ones if the goals are different. If the goal is work related, then you'll find the time or resources in work time. If personal, then it's up to a person's own motivation to give up some free time to do it. Finding the time, to me, is an indication of how serious a person is about achieving that goal of a fantastic blog and their reasons for doing so.

    Anyway, that's the devil's advocate talking.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.