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Why You Should Ignore Fads And Embrace Evidence-Based Marketing

Published on

March 7, 2024

Why You Should Ignore Fads And Embrace Evidence-Based Marketing

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If you’ve been stuck managing marketing campaign after marketing campaign with little return or long-term growth, it is probably time to reassess your whole approach.

You can start by answering this simple question: on what basis do you make your marketing decisions? 

If your method is to rely on industry fads, advice from LinkedIn “gurus,” your boss's whims — maybe even your horoscope or a magic 8-ball — you are setting yourself up for failure!

It’s time you learn about a concept called Evidence-Based Marketing (EBM).

Evidence-Based Marketing is a type of marketing that goes beyond assumptions and guesswork as the basis of decision-making.

👉 In a world where many marketers are basing their strategies on assumptions, Evidence-Based Marketing helps companies make informed decisions that lead to growth. 

Whether you’re setting your own marketing strategy or looking to hire a marketer you can trust, understanding the evidence-based approach provides a solid foundation for the success of your business.  

What Is Evidence-Based Marketing, And Why Should You Care?

Up until the late 19th century, doctors used to prescribe bloodletting, leech therapy, and opium-based elixirs. 

Now that these unfounded medical practices have been debunked, patients have drastically better outcomes! 

Consider the incredible fact that child mortality rates have dropped from nearly 40% to roughly 2% globally since 1800. 


Thanks to the scientific method, humanity has come a long way. 

Because guess what — it works really well! 

The scientific method can also be applied to marketing, where marketers make decisions using sound reasoning and hard evidence.

By leveraging data-driven insights and critical thinking, the goal is to enhance the efficacy and efficiency of marketing campaigns, streamline resource distribution, enable targeted marketing efforts, and ultimately achieve better business results. 

👉 Put in simpler terms, it’s about identifying what actually works and then doing more of what works.

When done correctly, the benefits are aplenty — increased ROI and better customer engagement, to name a few.

Evidence-Based marketing can be linked to “marketing self-defense,” an idea that Vince came up with to describe the practice of protecting oneself from all the bullsh*t one encounters out in the marketing world.

Go ahead and check out his LinkedIn post for the full explanation!

So, think of Evidence-Based Marketing as your antidote to marketing bullsh*t. 

Given the abundance of danger out there, you are going to need it. 

Let’s get into it.

Shady Marketers Are Lurking Around Every Corner

There’s no shortage of dubious marketers peddling promises of overnight success or unrealistically high returns. As a business owner looking to hire a marketer or a marketing agency, it can be hard to know who to trust.

That being said, there are some clear warning signs to look out for. 

The first and most obvious red flag is just that: marketers who make grand promises. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and sustainable marketing success will require time, effort, and a long-term strategy. 

So, the guy on LinkedIn who’s promising to increase your ROI by 200% in the next three months if you just buy his 3-step program?

He’s probably not the one you want to trust with your marketing decisions. 

Next, a lack of transparency is never a good sign. If a marketer hesitates to provide clear explanations of their methodologies, pricing, or past successes, proceed with caution. Ideally, you want someone who can provide you with: 

  1. A clear pricing structure
  2. Client testimonials 

While we’re on the subject of pricing, if a marketer is offering significantly lower prices than their competitors without a clear explanation of how they can afford to do so, it’s smart to question their motives and quality of their work. 

Lastly, watch out for pushy sales tactics that aim to pressure you into making a decision before you're ready. A reputable marketer should prioritize building a trusting relationship with you and respect your timeline for making the right decision once you have all the information in front of you.

It’s Easy To Fall Into The Trap Of Bad Marketing Practices

Just as it’s easy to fall for smooth-talking marketing “gurus,” it’s also easy to fall into bad practices on your own. 

As a marketer, it can be tempting to take shortcuts or follow the latest trends without considering their real relevance to your goals.

However, it's important to remain aware and avoid making decisions that could ultimately harm your marketing efforts.

Some bad practices to avoid: 

  • Chasing shiny objects: Using new tools or trends just because it’s popular
  • Vanity metric obsession: Focusing on numbers that are impressive but don’t mean anything in terms of your marketing goals
  • Falling for buzzwords: Incorporating trendy buzzwords or jargon into messaging without fully understanding their meaning or relevance
  • Ignoring Feedback: Disregarding valuable insights from customers 
  • Cherry-picking data: Selectively choosing data that supports a preconceived conclusion while ignoring contradictory evidence

Instead of falling for shortcuts, it’s best to follow a rigorous Evidence-Based approach when it comes to marketing strategy. 

Make sure you read until the end for key steps!

Evidence-Based Marketing Insights To Embrace

If you want to start your Evidence-Based Marketing journey, a good place to start is by reading up on information from reputable sources from industry experts and academic institutions.

Remember: some people learn marketing, and other talented people research and teach it: marketing isn’t only a tech bro affair! 

The Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science is dedicated to advancing marketing knowledge through rigorous scientific research, and they publish great resources for Evidence-Based Marketing. 

Let’s take a look at some interesting marketing insights that have been developed by marketing researchers in recent years.   

Mental and Physical Availability

In 2013, marketers Les Binet and Peter Field introduced a groundbreaking concept on advertising effectiveness in their report called The Long and the Short of It

Through their research, they concluded that brands should allocate 60% of their budget to long-term brand building and reserve 40% for activation and direct targeting

This principle, formulated in a B2C context, emphasizes the importance of balancing investment between long-term brand equity and short-term sales activation.

While this concept of dedicating a large amount of resources towards brand building was groundbreaking at the time, the idea has since been developed even further by John Dawes.

He developed the “95:5 law” which focuses on B2B buyers.

His research found that only 20% of B2B buyers actively seek services within a given year, with a mere 5% doing so within a quarter.

💡 A substantial portion of potential buyers — approximately 95% — are not actively in the market at any given time.

What does this mean for businesses? 

Well, in order to grow, it is imperative to market to those who may not currently be in the market.

By consistently exposing these individuals to the brand, marketers can build mental availability, ensuring that the brand is top-of-mind when these potential buyers eventually enter the market.

The second part of the equation is physical availability. This involves making the product or service easily obtainable to consumers when they decide to make a purchase. 

For example:

  • Is your product stocked on the shelves of retail stores where your customers shop? 
  • Is it simple and frictionless to make a purchase of the product on your website? 

While this sounds like it may only apply to retail, physical availability has a huge role to play in B2B too. Things like transparent pricing & fees, free trials, how easy it is to book a meeting, or interactive demos all play a role in physical availability.

These insights underscore the importance of adopting a long-term mindset in marketing, rather than solely focusing on short-term ROI. 

Marketers must recognize that building brand equity and establishing a strong presence in the minds of consumers, coupled with ensuring physical availability, are essential components of long-term success.

The Law of Double Jeopardy 

Like Binet and Field's emphasis on balancing long-term brand building with short-term sales activation, the Law of Double Jeopardy sheds light on a fundamental truth in brand dynamics.

The law applies to businesses both large and small and has real implications for the underdogs on the market. 

💡 Smaller brands face a double disadvantage according to the Law of Double Jeopardy. They not only have a smaller pool of buyers, but these buyers also tend to make purchases less frequently.

So without efforts to expand market share, trying to build brand loyalty is pointless.

The Law of Double Jeopardy implies that brands should shift their focus towards customer acquisition over retention. 

Category Entry Points

The Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science also introduced the idea of category entry points.

💡 Category entry points are like the doorways through which consumers step into and out of product categories, marking the moments when consumers start to consider a specific product or service category.

For marketers, understanding these entry points is key. It allows them to pinpoint opportunities to attract new customers and fuel growth for their brands. 

Think of it as connecting the dots between consumer behavior and marketing strategy.

This concept is closely intertwined with the idea of mental availability — linking products to relevant situations in consumers' lives. If you can be at the right place at the right time, you will be able to offer a consumer just what they need in that moment. 

For instance, if research reveals that many consumers enter a particular product category when they encounter a specific problem or need, savvy marketers can swoop in with targeted campaigns. 

Brand Loyalty

Contrary to popular belief, most consumers aren't die-hard fans of a single brand within a category. They instead tend to maintain a repertoire of brands, switching between them based on factors like availability, promotions, and even situational needs.

This challenges the idea of solely focusing on building blind loyalty. Instead, it emphasizes the importance of continuous customer acquisition and retention. 

💡 By consistently attracting new customers and bringing back existing ones, brands can build a sustainable and growing consumer base.

So, how do you achieve this in a dynamic marketplace? Once again, we’re coming back to the idea of mental availability.

Build your customer base by ensuring your brand is top-of-mind when consumers are making purchasing decisions.

In Bryan Sharp's book How Brands Grow, he introduces the concept of "light buyers,” consumers who purchase a brand infrequently but contribute significantly to overall sales volume. 

By understanding and attracting these light buyers, you can significantly increase your market reach and brand penetration.

You can think of it like building a strong social network — you might not hang out with everyone every day, but maintaining positive connections with a wider group ensures you have support when needed. 

In the same way, a brand with strong salience and mental availability is more likely to be chosen by consumers, regardless of their "loyalty" to any one brand.

Evidence-Based Marketing: The Key Steps

Heard enough theory? Ready to implement Evidence-Based Marketing into your own projects?

Remember, Evidence-Based Marketing isn't just about having the right information — it's also about the method: critically thinking throughout every stage of your project. This means constantly analyzing, questioning, and interpreting information to inform your decisions.

Here's a roadmap to guide you. 

1. Research

The first phase of Evidence-Based Marketing is research. This involves gathering and meticulously analyzing relevant data to gain deep insights into your customers, competitors, and the overall market landscape.

You need to understand who your customers are, what drives them to purchase, and how you stack up against the competition. 

The data pool for B2C and B2B companies is generally different:

  • B2C companies often have a wealth of data: customer demographics, purchase history, website traffic, social media engagement metrics, and more. 
  • B2B companies tend to have typically smaller customer bases: they must be more strategic in collecting valuable data. This can involve qualitative data gathered through customer interviews, surveys, or reviews. 

Through your data, the goal is to:

  • Uncover the "why" behind customer purchase decisions: This allows you to refine your positioning and craft targeted messaging that resonates with their needs and motivations.
  • Identify the problems your product solves: By understanding what pain points your product addresses, you can position it effectively in the market.
  • Analyze competitor offerings and identify your competitive advantage: This allows you to refine your unique selling proposition and stand out from the crowd.

2. Setting Objectives

Before diving into your marketing campaigns, you must set your goals. 

Ask yourself what you want to achieve with your marketing efforts. Is it brand awareness? Driving sales? Boosting customer retention? Or a combination of these? 

The method dictates deciding what success looks like BEFORE the start of an experiment. We need to know what “working” means before we assess whether something is “working.”

This is very simple, but most companies and marketers don’t bother with this. They launch campaigns, and report on them afterward saying “it worked” or “it didn’t work,” without having properly defined what it means for a campaign to be “working.”

After, once you have your objectives, you’ll need to know how to measure them

Some examples:  

  • Brand awareness: measure website traffic, social media engagement, or brand mentions.
  • Sales: measure sales figures, conversion rates, or customer acquisition costs.
  • Customer retention: measure customer churn rate, repeat purchase rate, or Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Remember, "working" is a relative term, and if you don’t decide early on what it means for you, there’s no way you can deem your marketing efforts a success (or not). 

3. Testing And Iteration

The testing and iteration stage is crucial to finding out exactly what “works” and then doing it again and again to refine your efforts.

This phase begins with the insights gleaned from your research. Here's how it unfolds:

  1. Formulate hypotheses: Based on your research findings, create testable predictions about how your target audience will respond to specific marketing actions. These hypotheses act as your roadmap for testing.
  2. A/B testing: Pit different marketing strategies and tactics against each other to objectively assess their effectiveness. For instance, you might test two versions of an ad headline to see which one generates a higher click-through rate.
  3. Implement improvements: Once you've identified the winning strategy or tactic, integrate it into your overall marketing plan. This is where the "doing more of what works" comes into play.
  4. Continuous monitoring and analysis: This isn't a "set it and forget it" process. You need to continuously monitor your previously identified metrics to track the impact of your marketing efforts. Data analysis will uncover further insights and opportunities for improvement.
  5. Iteration: Use the data and insights you gather to refine your strategies, test new hypotheses, and continuously optimize your campaigns for even better results.

Think of testing and iteration as a virtuous cycle. You learn what resonates with your audience, implement the winning elements, and then use those learnings to fuel further progress.

This continuous cycle of research, testing, and refinement forms the foundation of Evidence-Based Marketing. Through this process, EBM empowers you to:

  • Make data-driven decisions that maximize your return on investment (ROI).
  • Effectively move the needle towards achieving your specific marketing goals.

By adopting Evidence-Based Marketing as your guiding principle, you can escape the trap of empty promises and unsubstantiated claims. Instead, you'll chart a course for sustainable business success, leaving the world of marketing bullsh*t behind you.

Alexis Herrington

I’m the new SEO hire at ScaleCrush! A former teacher, I love transforming complex topics into easy-to-understand content. I’m always busy learning all about marketing and love sharing my thoughts along the way.

Marketing gurus are lying to you. Am I?
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