The decision to remove To Kill a Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men from GCSE exam course content is clearly a good one. Both books were on my GCSE reading list, over thirty years ago, and I am amazed that they are still being churned out for analysis.

Yes, they’re both undoubtedly classics, but there have been many books published over the past 50 years that are more relevant and, frankly, more interesting and better written than these. Authors who immediately spring to mind include Iris Murdoch, Howard Jacobson, Julian Barnes, and Iain Banks.

The decision has caused controversy, but if anyone is in any doubt that it’s correct I would refer them to this tweet:

I rest my case.

I have never, ever consumed a Tall Latte. I certainly have never, ever purchased a Tall Latte from Starbucks, and what’s more, Starbucks know this. They know that I drink, far too many, black Americano coffees.

I have however, purchased Baker’s 3Kg Dog Food. I have, in fact, purchased Baker’s 3Kg Dog Food from Tesco, and they also know it.

Both Starbucks and Tesco have loyalty cards to which I am signed up, which is how they know my buying habits, and both have sent me special offers. Tesco’s, 75p off of Baker’s 3Kg Dog Food, Starbuck’s a quid off of a Tall Latte.(Interestingly the Starbuck’s offer comes via email, Tesco’s by post. It doesn’t matter.)

Starbucks – this is 2014, you are an extremely profitable company and have a big marketing budget. Please spend it on some expertise. Patronising rant over.

It’s that time of year when the great, good and stupid of marketing publish articles along the lines of “Best Ways to Succeed with Social Media Marketing in 2014″, “Five Trends Coming Our Way in 2014″ and “The 2014 Ecommerce Marketing Checklist”. Being a mere simple marketing mortal, I can’t compete with their clearly unchallengable knowledge and foresight, but I can set out my hopes for the following 12 months. Here we go:

1/ I hope that Website usability is put at the forefront of every digital strategy

No organisation should even consider a digital marketing strategy until they have conducted a website usability audit. There’s really no point at all in engaging in SEO, email marketing, social media or alike if a website fails to provide the user with what they want, preferably within 2 or 3 clicks. If a visitor is looking for a medium , red widget, it should be really clear how to find  medium, red widget on a site. Quickly, through obvious navigation.

2/ I hope that fewer buzzwords and buzz phrases are invented and more time and energy invested into marketing basics

To Quote the great David Ogilvy: “Our business is infested with idiots who try to impress by using pretentious jargon.”

Big data, gamification, SoLoMo, snackable contnet, immersive experience, bleeding edge. Let’s stop talking rubbish and start marketing, you can be innovative without talking bollocks.

3/ I hope that companies market according to their needs, not what they think is expected

Contrary to what many will tell you, social media, for example, is not a tactic suited to all organisations. Companies should assess their needs, their budgets, and produce a marketing plan accordingly. Digital’s great, but new technologies and methodoligies shouldn’t be made to fit if not appropriate.

Following on…….

4/ I hope that sales and marketing teams work together, recognising the common goal

Sounds obvious, but many companies have organisational structures that prevent this. Sales plans and marketing plans should all stem from one central business plan. Marketing is not an administrative department, and sales is a two-way process, feeding back market intelligence.

5/  I hope publishers begin to recognise the value of good content again

(Maybe a bit out of place in this list, although media and marketing are unavoidably linked, but please excuse my self-indulgence).

If a publisher produces good content it has value. Sell it. By all means use advertising and sponsorship led business models, but good content should not be prostituted in favour of the agency’s shilling. Be a publisher, not a pimp.

6/ I hope ‘marketing’ starts to grow-up

Marketing continues to evolve, but is still far from grown-up. For all the specialist conferences, webinars, white papers, and websites, the discipline is still mishandled, and in many cases the people who lead it are arrogant and self-promoting. In general they are too keen to try and fabricate innovation, rather than sit back and review what they already have – a tremendous wealth of riches, more than ever before to use to achieve their goals.  Innovation is important, but innovation for innovation’s sake is not.

Let 2014 be the year of sensible marketing, using all the many tools we now have at our disposal, but remembering the basics such as features and benefits, pricing, testing and value proposition. Let 2014 be the year where marketing starts to grow up.

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