So here I am randomly blogging after what, a two year hiatus (?) and outta the blue I ask whether or not you’re exhibiting symptoms of Marketingus lapsisus. Sounds like a hideous disease but there may be more to this #fake scientific name than you think.
Allow me to walk you through this by first going down memory lane. This may be slightly painful, so bear with me.
Anybody can do marketing
Right? #AMIRITE ??
That’s what a few people suddenly found themselves saying during the Great Recession of 2008, especially following that subprime mortgage fiasco we won’t go into.
I’m not suggesting hordes of people lost everything and suddenly became marketers overnight. I have no specific data to support this claim. However, I distinctly remember encountering and interacting with a host of Twitter profiles back in ‘08 who were all very clearly evangelizing the magic of Marketingus followmeitis, relentlessly bullhorning brand and bait in the name of self-actualizing goals!
Nothing wrong with that. And some may well have transitioned themselves successfully as bone fide marketeers. So, is it true? Can anybody do marketing?
Self-employed pro’s, consultants, artisans and the like do it themselves all the time!
That said, marketing may look like the type of job anybody can do. But it obviously depends on the context, audience and scale. Enterprise level marketing, for instance, requires specific skills, technical knowledge and field experience. Not only that, you must truly be agile, transmutable and ahead of trends before they emerge.
The unforgiving digital age
During the halcyon days of social media, where online networking was experiencing its own version of Woodstock, the wild wild west of social marketing started rearing its ugly–—I mean, was also burgeoning.
Thought leadership, one of the most overused marketing jargon that’s gingerly carved itself into the universal corporate lexicon, will continue to unassumingly find a snug spot among the annual playbooks of many communications and marketing professionals.
However, examining the etymological construct and semantic implications of this term would be akin to writing about what it is or what it’s not (ahem). So I’ll spare your eyes from itching and tearing.
Instead, I’d like to quickly segue into a short list of considerations.
Why should folks in our profession need to stop acting like content sycophants, especially when sculpting our respective digital footprint?
Novelty is not just about originality but also, and perhaps more importantly, purpose
If your sole aim is to augment your prospect and client database for the sake of bullhorning your way into a lead, you might wanna rethink your approach.
If a client is asking for help with lead generation, would you quickly pull out a formulaic, one-size-fits-all strategy that looks original but covers a finite stand-alone goal OR would you work harder at researching your way into an intricately story-boarded saga of intrigue, designed to branch out and morph under the weight of its own appealing complexities and idiosyncracies?
Content can be crafted to shine and sparkle on command. But if there is no long-term vision or purpose behind its existence, then all the sweat-induced thoughts poured into its mould will last only for that one instance.
Novelty is an elaborate Venetian mask that will always end up being shelved after the ball. So the face behind that mask had better be able to launch at least a thousand ships.
When you’re using a blatant marketing voice, it’s not just boring; it’s annoying
We see this all the time. And the most obvious and common examples are evident on Twitter, day in and out.
“Check out my latest, 210th variation on disruptive engagement” or “Watch how I mindlessly favourite a series of tweets ’cause anything by @EveybodyLovesThisGuru has GOT to be great” ..
I try to diligently regulate the frequency of my own social sharing. But each time I do take a moment to check in on the larger social stream, I am invariably assailed by the same users tweeting, retweeting and commenting on the same tunnel-visioned theme, with the same tone of voice, and the very same, predictable manner of expression. Granted, they do this since they have no choice: it is their purported area of expertise after all.
Share something totally different, but echoes elements of your core expertise. Make someone smile or laugh, make them believejust how real, how fun and approachable you truly are.
How you create content is even more critical than what content you create
We are so obsessed with producing original content that we easily lose sight of the overall process of creating.
By definition, the act of creating IS in fact the actual gold we are mining. The multiple—often intricately detailed—phases involved in giving form and breathing life into an idea offers rich opportunities for gaining new perspectives and never-before-seen ways to arrive at the next step, the next iteration or variation.
You know I don’t have to spell this out, but you really must ask yourself from time to time: “How attentive am I at filtering the indiscernible nuggets that crystallize what makes my content meaningful, substantive and compelling?”
This post was inspired, ironically, by a long hiatus from Twitter. When I did spend a few moments reviewing my feed today, I noticed how predictable my Twitter stream looked and felt. Yes, felt.
As a creative person, my visceral reactions often urge me to articulate thoughts based on raw observations.
How about you? What inspires you to formulate thoughts enough to want to share them? And in so doing, do you feel like you’re inspiring (dare I say ‘leading’) others to do the same?
It’s an unsaid fact that those in our field are either natural born movers and shakers or highly trained Type A personality types with a gifted eye for the big picture and a sharp nose for emerging trends.
But a few folks have recently asked me: how ever do you keep up?
Now I doubt I’d be divulging any major trade secrets here, but below are food for thought for those who really don’t get ‘how some of us do it’ or newbies who could use the tip.
Cultivating the Creative We are creative types. Yes we are. We’ve always been creative in the way we think, act or choose to define ourselves (i.e., what some now call ‘personal branding’).
Whether you practice an artistic craft or are a bonafide appreciator or critic of an art form, you will always have the propensity for and be drawn into something that the general public will view as creative.
But being successfully (or productively) creative is not as obvious as it may appear. A creative predisposition comes with fair knowledge of history and science, since most universal art forms emerge and are thus recognized from a confluence of these seemingly unrelated disciplines.
So marketers do in fact make time to hone in their creativity either by consistently practicing an art form or being part of it as an observer, supporter or commentator. Cultivating the creative is not just a nice-to-have. It’s a must-have, must-do, which has in effect become second nature to most of us.
Diversifying Interests Financially, a diversified portfolio is considered a sound approach to investment. Biologically, diversified gene pools tend to produce the most disease-resistant offspring across almost all species of animal and plant life.
The very same principle of diversification applies to marketers and communicators who tend to produce the strongest ideas and most innovative solutions. Their minds are not tunneled into one direction or focused into a singular interest. Some have their hands in almost anything and everything that moves or twitches.
This urge to be hyper aware and involved in multiple forms of activities is what ‘keeps us on our toes’. It’s preprogammed in how we respond to the barrage of stimuli that comes our way on a day-to-day basis.
The more we know about and get involved in different pursuits and interests, the easier it is for us to connect the dots. In essence, this is what big picture thinking is all about. Or rather, Big Picture 2.0. We’re not conspiracy theorists. We’re simply able to see (and sense) the underlying importance of our implicitly interconnected world.
Defying the Comfort Zone Not much there to it, right? Comes with the territory, you say.
Well you’d be surprised how many of us actually have to push ourselves, to convince ourselves that there’s nothing to be afraid of. Unreal, right? All this creativity and diversification and yet some of us can be quite constipated at just the mere thought of stepping outside the boundaries of what’s cozy and familiar.
But we do it nonetheless. Because we know it’s part of what makes us better at what we do.
What spooks us is not the unknown itself as much as the thought of failing in understanding or mastering the unknown. And if we don’t actually have the gumption to do it on our own, we’ll ask someone we trust to push us.
Defying our respective comfort zones sharpens our agility and enables us to always remain calm and collected whenever faced with unforeseen SNAFU’s that would normally make others wilt from pressure and stress.
Monitoring Technology We get tech. We always have and always will.
Today’s modern marketing and communications professional belongs to one of two camps: 1) those who are a product of the current technological revolution that’s shamelessly influencing how we connect virtually, consume instantaneously and cord-cut outdated modes of connection willingly, or 2) those who’ve proactively adjusted themselves to stay in synch of this sweeping revolution.
Either way, we know that we can never underestimate how technology shapes our lives. Consequently, we are among the few outside the field of tech itself who stay right on top of its movements.
So these are some of the things that have allowed me to “keep up”. How do YOU keep up? Do share.
Does my organization even have a mobile version of its key digital assets? Come to think of it, when was the last time I checked our site on phone, hmm .. Isn’t getting a mobile face for our brand quite the undertaking on its own?
Lets walk through this inner dialogue you’re having with yourself. Here’s what I think:
Yes, your brand needs a mobile face
We’ve heard the excuses. “Well, our business is a basic bricks-n-mortar shop, catering to local customers with selective tastes for organic-only produce. Why would we need a mobile version of our site or an app for that matter?”
True, your biz may well be enjoying an undisrupted period of success through steady, local traffic and remarkable WOM. But what about your untapped audience? Tourists, wholesalers, international producers of organic products, health professionals, the list goes on.
Mobile is the digital age’s calling card. Sure the power of Word-of-Mouth can be quite unmatched. But WOM also spreads faster online. Why not consider a store app that pings users with online specials, in-store coupons, price comparison charts, nutrition calculator and a host of other mobile offerings? Mobile is no longer a nice-to-have lifestyle feature in our intensely wired world.
No, not everything needs to be mobile
Remember back in the late 90’s when every organization was scrambling mad to get a website up and running? “We need to be on the web. It’s gonna be huge!!” Well, this time, the urgency is about seeking relevance in a mobile mode of existence.
And now that we’ve learned a great deal from the halcyon dot.com days of cutting and pasting printed content onto a digital canvas, we’re more confident about being selective, of not having every aspect of our business made available and accessible on mobile.
At best, your mobile presence should consist of these three content types:
Information about who you are, why your audience should care (brand ID)
What you are prepared to do for your audience (task-oriented feature that benefits user)
How your audience can reach you (CTA mechanism)
Yes, you can do it on the cheap
But only in cases of urgency / emergency. Only because you were blind-sided by the seemingly undisturbed permanence of the old ‘doing business’ model until you ended up having to cross two types of bridges:
Band-Aid Bridge. You’ve hemmed and hawed for months but just ended up sweeping the issue under the rug, until one of your prospects actually emails you, asking “Is there a mobile version of that catalogue?” But you must treat this is an interim measure until you’ve fully optimized your digital presence for mobile.
Starter Bridge You’ve literally just launched your start up, and having a promising biz model employing the power of one, you want a comprehensive digital profile but have no budget and bandwidth. But, if your startup is about developing mobile apps, then you really have no excuse. Right?
You have the team. You have the money. You have the resources.
You may be a fledgling start up who’s caught the eye of top investors, but your biz model is solid and designed to increase market share in various key geographies. Or you may actually even be an enterprise with in-house resources and smart people.
However, if you think you can treat mobile optimization as a pilot project, then you and your laurels are quietly awaiting disruption to take you down the path that leads to those two bridges.
Research your market and audience: optimizing for mobile makes more sense if you know what your target market and audience prefer to do while connecting and accessing information via mobile. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Offer at least 1 useful function that benefits the user: your mobile site or app must be useful to your customer. Being mobile is all about being efficient. If there is functional benefit to your app (be it to entertain or to empower mobile functions) than it’s not really an app, is it?
Rely on technical experts: the online collective is teeming with talented developers, designers of every field. Be they programmers, illustrators, animators or cartographers. Collaborate and partner with your creative and tech allies. Finesse and execute on your mobile road map with their help.
Is your company mobile? Has it matured in the mobile space or is it just about to cross that bridge?