Thousands of Marketers Use Fake Data to Sell, Says Expert

Marc Suster penned an article on TechCrunch this week entitled “Why Your Marketing Campaign Sucks,” so of course I had to stop whatever I was doing to read it. Mainly, he’s addressing a PR/messaging/awareness campaign, not necessarily a lead-gen campaign.

In it, he discusses why some businesses lament their lack of coverage. His answer is that they suck at PR. So Suster helpfully hones in on a few key items, which I’ll attempt to paraphrase for brevity’s sake. Read the article if you’re just dying to get the director’s cut.

  1. Think about the journalist and why they should want to cover the story about you. That is, getting to the media is about them, not you.
  2. Have a point of view and distribute that as the story.
  3. Journalists love data and therefore you must include as much as you humanly can, because numbers never lie.

Ok. I definitely agree with 1 and 2.

First, #2. You definitely must have a position and view of the market and stick with it. Look at Benioff and Salesforce. People laughed in the early 90s when he said there should be no software and it should all be on the web. We know how that story ended. What matters is that you demonstrate you’re doing something unique, difficult, and in the end will make things better. As the line goes in “Say Anything” when John Cusack and Ione Skye are about to take off.

Ione: Nobody thinks it will work, do they?

John: You just described every great success story.

Next, #1. Journalists are inundated. They have so much to cover and every jackshit company wants their attention. You have to give them something vital that their readers are going to want to read or at least will encourage eyeballs. So whenever possible, you pitch with them in mind. You gotta do them the favor of making that time spent with you worthwhile.

Now, #3. I have a fundamental problem with this. Yes, you should provide proof-points. A customer reference, some third-party study, expert testimony, something. But I would argue that data, for as much as journalists (and I’m guessing VCs) feed on it like sharks on chum, is just that. It’s CHUM.

I can easily go off and collect “first party” research data and have it go viral. I can massage that data and make it say, based on 50M YouTube viewers, Rebecca Black’s Friday is more impactful in a shorter period than both the Beatles and Jesus combined. 4 out of 5 dentists agree our product is better. Anyone with a SurveyMonkey account can poll 200 people and get the exact result they want. The only valid data to throw out there is an audited user count or SEC filing or computer analytics showing you’re much cooler than even you expected. Everything else comes from your ass.

Even the LUMAScape which he uses as an example (which is directed to VCs, not advertisers), is one person’s view of how to pigeon-hole vendors (who scream about their placement all the time).

Made up data is all just meaningless stats like Passes Defended in football or analyzing the last 5 sets of lottery numbers to determine a probable outcome.

And does this really serve the target customer? Unlikely. In fact, they will still make a decision that’s right for them (hopefully) and not bow down to some media mob.

Thought leadership means understanding and expanding everyone’s position, not just posting a flashy number hoping to get readers.


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