It’s incredible the number of ad agencies and C-suite executives that run their marketing the same way today as they did 10 years ago. Whether their inability to recognize the need for digital marketing stems from arrogance or cluelessness matters little when they find their businesses going bankrupt as inbound and digital marketers they’ve scorned step over them on their way up.

These executives brag about their ad being on page 4 of some magazine nobody reads. And when I say nobody, I hardly exaggerate.

An Instructive Survey…

I was the keynote speaker at a conference of about 350 people recently and I asked a few simple questions. Feel free to answer these questions yourself as I relate this experience.

I asked the audience, “How many of you have read a magazine this morning?” Perhaps you’re laughing at this question, because no one reads magazines…

Actually, I stand corrected because 3 people out of about 350 people raised their hand. That’s not quite no one, but pretty close.

Then I asked, “How many of you have checked Facebook, today?” Nearly every single person in the audience raised their hand. Then I asked, “How many of you have checked Facebook in the last 15 minutes?” and about 80% kept their hand up.

…That Amazingly Not Everybody Understood

So here you have an audience of individuals responsible for marketing at some level within their company telling me that they are 99 times more likely to check Facebook than read a magazine, yet so many are unable to take that knowledge from the consumer perspective and apply it on the marketing end.

It should be obvious that if you want to reach people, real people, marketers must focus on digital and social. Yet some of the “smartest” people in the room can’t figure this out. Why else would hundreds of millions of dollars be spent on magazine ads that get 1/99 the audience of Facebook (without a way to track it)?

And the few people actually reading these magazines are glossing over these overpriced ads.

But no matter how obvious the death of traditional media becomes, there are still people who think a magazine ad or a TV commercial in the 4th quarter of a blowout gets enough eyeballs to justify the outrageous cost of an ad.

Right after I finished my keynote speech, two executives pulled me aside and one said (in a haughty voice not possible to duplicate in writing, but you’ve probably heard it from the guy at your company who knows everything because he read a book 12 years ago), “I read magazines. I think you’re being a little dramatic.”

“Oh, so you’re the one!” I replied, because calling him a jackass might have been rude. 

Nobody reads magazines. Nobody reads newspapers. Nobody pays attention to TV or radio ads. So why can’t so many marketers, brand managers, and C-suite executives–people who get paid a lot of money to market–not recognize this? It’s crazy!

You Don’t Have To Be Brilliant

You have these executives sitting behind closed doors making decisions based on irrelevant data, like the fluffed up “statistically significant” ratings claim that a certain number of viewers had their televisions on at such and such time, as if that proves those turned-on televisions were attracting engaged eyeballs.

As long as these proverbial smartest guys in the room keep making non-sensical decisions, there’s only one way for them to go, into bankruptcy. Within the next 5-7 years, I predict the demise of many major companies, agencies and brands we all know and love because they refuse to adapt their marketing and business practices.

Take a look at Sports Authority. During a time when sporting goods and athletic wear sales are growing, Sports Authority had to close their 463 stores. All of them. Perminantly. How insane is that? How can a major sporting goods store go out of business during a period where more people are buying sporting goods and athletic apparel than ever before?

Antiquated marketing tactics. Online retailers. Horendus business practices. Lack of empathy for the consumer. Non-existant customer service.

You’d think a company that size would have figured out that if online retailers were finding massive success, they would need to find a way to compete. Instead they continued to do business the same way they had for decades before. And spent millions of dollars monthly on newspaper ads. 

Unfortunatley, this is just the beginning. There are just too many companies who think they are smarter than the marketplace. They don’t want to change, or they think they have plenty of time to do so.

The good news? It’s never been a better time in history to be a smaller, adgile company that has the humility to look at what works and do business the way it’s done today.