What is Frankenstein Syndrome and is your marketing in distress?
Frankenstein Syndrome refers to a marketing issue wherein a company's marketing tools and strategies are pieced together from many sources - resulting in an often redundant and fragile marketing ecosystem. By stitching together resources, tools, and content, businesses could end up creating more problems than they solve.
Solutions that may have been implemented with the best of intentions could ultimately become nothing more than short-term pieces of patchwork for a long-term set of issues. As a result, you have a fragile system of tools that aren't meant to operate together. What frequently ensues is a complex and out-of-date marketing funnel that could lead to your business hemorrhaging potential consumers and money. By not addressing this issue as a systemic problem, your company faces wasting money on advertising that never reaches your target demographic.
So, what can lead a business to become a monster, like that of Dr. Frankenstein’s creation? (Frankenstein was, of course, the doctor and not the monster. If you remember nothing else from this article, remember that.) Using a marketing funnel can be a highly ineffective and costly measure for your business. A dated marking strategy can only make matters worse by wasting time, money, and resources. Businesses must strive to identify and fix marketing mistakes and miscommunications if they want to continue to grow their businesses. Communication between departments can also have a big impact on brand awareness, lead quality, as well as the direction of future messaging and product development, which affects all future sales efforts.
What is a marketing sales funnel and why is it a bad business strategy?
A marketing funnel, or marketing sales funnel, is a thought model used to understand the process of turning business leads into customers. The mechanism is designed to help one visualize a series of stages during the consumer’s buying journey. While the idea of the marketing funnel has many incarnations, it functions basically in the following stages starting broadly and becoming narrower as the categories continue. Picture a funnel labeled as such in descending order: Awareness - knowing about your brand, Consideration - contemplating buying your product or service, Purchase - actually spending money on your business, and finally Loyalty or Advocate - becoming loyal to your brand and ideally repurchasing and promoting it.
So, how does it work? It starts by casting a large marketing net, trying to reach everyone. The problem arises when at every stage of the funnel, you lose business. This means that while some businesses may be aware of your product or service, those that actually reach the final stage of becoming loyal clients or advocates of your brand would be a much smaller number. What’s the problem with that, one might wonder? The problem is that the marketing sales funnel is a dying and flawed marketing technique, one whose roots are almost as old as the author of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, herself.
Elias St. Elmo Lewis is the marketing pioneer, and literal Advertising Hall of Famer, whose ideas are thought to be the basis of the marketing funnel. The first, primitive explanation of the advertising concept was in a column written by Lewis, under the pen name Musgrove, for “The Inland Printer.” He stated in the August 1897 issue: “The first law of ad composition should be, as in the making of a picture: Have a point on which the attention is to be concentrated and render every other portion of the ad display subordinate to that.”
Two elements from his ideology were to "attract attention" and "maintain interest" or as it is often referred to as sustained attention, which is the very crux of the funnel system. The problem is that the funnel system has not evolved in over a century, but consumers have! By ignoring this crucial fact one can easily turn their well-intentioned marketing strategy into a monster of a problem.
Herein lies the trap of funnel marketing. If you want more advocates, you have to raise awareness. The only way to do so is to buy a bigger funnel so you can have more potential leads, so businesses are forced into buying more advertisements. The funnel is a top-bottom system that flows in one direction so its success for your business relies on your ability to buy more and more advertisements to raise awareness - which is costly and utterly wasteful. Businesses become reliant on advertisers to fill the funnel. There are good reasons to buy ads, but the reasons and ways we advertise have changed over the past 124 years, especially when one considers the invention of the internet. Businesses have to acknowledge the need to update processes to market more effectively.
How communication between departments can affect marketing returns.
A recent study from the market research firm FocusVision polled marketing executives from organizations with at least 500 employees and at least $50 million in annual revenue that purchased a marketing technology solution within the previous year. The results showed that the average business-to-business buyer’s journey for a single employee involves the consumption of about 13 pieces of content. This content ranged from vlogs to customer testimonials to reviews, as well as white papers and analyst reports. The business-to-business buying process can take weeks and end up involving multiple individuals and decision-makers within a singular company. It is, for this reason, vital to establish cross-team collaboration between sales and marketing teams on a holistic level for your business to succeed.
When asked, “how did you find content,” the respondents said overwhelmingly directly through vendor websites, followed by internet search engines and social media. The least likely sources of awareness being through email advertisements and word of mouth. In order to update your marketing process, your business must be willing to change and evolve as people and technology do. Before the 1980s, most marketing was done via three venues, radio, television, and print media. Then came the internet. This unlocked a powerful potential in interconnectivity.
So the issue became building technology and software to read and react to all of the new data that was being created. From there software was developed to target customers and to make solutions to measure how well the information is being used. This is where miscommunication can start to form. Studies show that less than 30% of advertisers consider their own measurement data trustworthy, yet hundreds of billions of dollars are spent on annual global marketing.
How is a monster created?
In any given business marketing is channeled through a number of strategies including email, search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC), television, social media, and performance. While a CMO might oversee marketing, it is usually the case that multiple teams are working on marketing content. More often than not, those teams are working independently of each other. Each team works within their own framework, within their own budgets, and under their own project goals. This means that there can be a disconnect of communication between teams and departments within the same company if they do not subscribe to a holistic view of marketing strategy. If a flaw starts to form within a system, this is when tools are built to effectively bolt projects and strategy together to form solutions for the smaller problems or challenges within a system - this is where Frankenstein’s monster can start to form.
In a marketing system, a variety of tools are used like spreadsheets, data warehouses, attribution vendors, and more. If your company does not have a systemic methodology, it can lead to the duplication of data within teams which exacerbates existing problems. Stitching tools together can build an even bigger monster, leading to patchwork systems that were not meant to work together.
The biggest problem here is the lack of data transparency. Can you answer these questions about your own company? Where is the data coming from? Who assembled it? How many people have access to the information? This is the key issue for marketing in the post-internet era - it is not enough to simply consume and collect data, it has to be tracked! Tracking data is imperative to gaining access to meta-level information, otherwise, the data is not actionable. If your data is not trackable, it means that you are left with mostly aggregate-level data. Marketing teams need to validate and confirm where impression clicks are happening in order to get actionable leads.
Not having access to tracked data combined with a disconnected marketing team can lead to the grave problems of data duplication and the normalization of marketing data. Every department may assume your marketing data is correct, but the bigger the scale, the more connections are created within a system, which can lead to duplicate connections, and redundant data points.
Frankenstein systems also generally lack the ability to scale your business because patchwork systems are often inflexible and unable to grow with your company. This leads to wasted time and money for your marketing team to fix small-scale problems in the short term while leading to costly problems in the long term if you want your business to grow - and you do. It can also cause a high risk to the security of your platforms and can usually only be fixed by doing manual and routine maintenance that is an avoidable expense to your business.
Scaling back the monster
Understanding the interconnectivity of both your data sets and your marketing personnel is crucial in order to reduce the risk of duplicating information. It is important to work with intelligent connections, not monstrous ones because data access needs to be consistent across all channels within a marketing department and your business. By creating API codes, it will allow for equal access to features of the entire operating system or application. This means that you will have fewer duplicate counts which are important because incorrect or inconsistent data can skew your ROI and give a distorted image of your marketing effectiveness.
Creating a monster can be avoided if you take your time to strategize a marketing technique from the beginning with an end in mind.
This includes working with a deliberate and well-documented marketing process, anticipating marketing mistakes, and understanding the more contemporary tools you have at your disposal to improve your marketing performance. Your company might consider updating your marketing tools and ditching that funnel in order to encourage a more modern and systemic strategy as well as allowing for equal access and trackable data across your marketing teams and business as a whole.