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Mies van der Rohe Marketing

CJ Chilvers
CJ Chilvers
2 min read

Have you heard about the latest “trend” in online marketing?

It’s not really a trend — good publishers have been doing it all along. But with the recent privacy changes at Apple (and soon many others), online publishers have had to resort to some old-school methods of getting the word out.

This includes groundbreaking tactics like:

  • Not being an asshole
  • Not spamming
  • Treating your readers like they know the difference between a sales pitch and an article
  • Getting to know your customers personally
  • Not trying to trick people into short-term sales
  • And so on…

To be fair, there are some pretty interesting trends being addressed like why you should de-personalize some emails.

The cool kids have been calling this new approach of treating each email, and page on your site, for what it really is, “authentic personalization.”

I hate jargon, so I call it “Mies van der Rohe marketing.”

It’s a tip of the cap to the modernists, who believed in “truth to materials.” If you build a steel and glass building, make it look like steel and glass.

Don’t be the McMansion with foam columns. You’re not fooling anyone.

What does this approach mean for marketers?

  • Realize your customers are part of a generation that has grown up being marketed to online. They know what you’re trying to do, so be real, not clever.
  • When marketing for products and services, create fewer, but more precise email and landing pages.
  • Be honest to the kind of email you’re sending. Don’t mix messages. Is this a marketing email? OK, get me in and out. Make it clear. Is this a newsletter? Give me content I care about. Is this a letter from the CEO? Make it look like a real email from a real human.
  • Get clear on one-to-one vs one-to-many messaging.
  • “Hey [name],” is not personalization. It’s transparent automation.
  • Segment if you can, but don’t count on tracking. It was never good for customers, and now it’s going to be the ruin of many campaigns (both good and bad). Email will get less engagement and cost more to send for smaller businesses. You must remember this is not your customer’s or reader’s problem. Adapt.
  • Email Service Providers will not have your best interests in mind. All you need to do is look at the history of fraud in advertising data to see where this is all heading. You may lose engagement, but ESPs are beginning to lose their business models.
  • Realize none of this stops with the latest changes. It will progress. While we can’t know how, we can certainly see which way the wind is blowing. Many publishers and ESPs were angry at Apple for their privacy changes, but consumers (and smart marketers) rejoiced. Consumers set the market. They don’t care about your business model. Adapt.
  • Start measuring the true cost of getting and keeping readers and customers. Long-term relationships are what it’s all about.

None of this is new. There will always be marketers who play to the latest trends, change jobs every 2 years, and rack up small, short-term victories.

There will also always be marketers who build long-term relationships and deliver what their customers and readers want, regardless of trends.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out which camp offers the more fulfilling, less-stressful experience — at least to a principled person.