Just about once a year, though I try to hold back, I end up writing a piece on the marketing industry. Let’s call it what it is, it’s a rant. And the time has come for this annual event. I would like to warn you that if you are a marketer who plays on social all day, mostly builds relationships with your peers and competitors and has the time to Snap, Pokemon Go and attend webinars all day, I don’t think you are going to enjoy this read. Likewise if you are an executive at a brand, a business owner or a startup trying to figure out the ever-changing digital marketing landscape by listening to the above mentioned crew, you’ll likely not get a warm fuzzy feeling on this one. Nor should you.
Can We Get Real For Just A Moment?
I really try my best to avoid the influx of new shiny objects that are constantly flooding digital marketing with hype and noise. I also try my best to especially disregard the “experts” that jump on the bandwagon of every new shiny object to use and promote it as early as possible. You need to understand that the latest app, tool or platform is what many of the marketing “experts”, wannabe’s, speakers and authors use to create new content, drive traffic and appear relevant. It is how they generate their income. Or in many cases generate false notoriety and internet fame that has very little real revenue or results at all.
In my humble opinion, this is the kind of activity and behavior that represents everything that is wrong with the marketing industry today.
What started this one?
I saw a post on Facebook one morning that said “With Blab fading (or dead), where will people go for Live Video Group Discussions?”. Now this post seems pretty innocent and shouldn’t warrant a marketing professional to go crazy in their mind, right? Then I noticed a good friend and respected colleague of mine made the first comment on this post. Dave Humphrey‘s comment simple said “Maybe Cracker Barrel?” This got me laughing like mad at first, only to get me thinking, becoming frustrated, upset and then finally starting this marketing industry rant post.
Pied Piper Leading You To The Slaughter House
If digital marketers were honest with themselves and thought back over the last 3-5 years, you would have to start reconsidering what you believe to be true. If you are not able to be honest with yourself, you are probably becoming scathing mad at this point in my piece, but let’s get real…
Remember when Google Plus launched? Do you remember in 2011 and 2012 when half of the “industry leaders”, experts, speakers and wannabe’s changed their Facebook profile pics to read “I’ve Moved To G+?” Do you remember how they all were writing about it, proclaiming Facebook was dead (or dying) and that you needed to leave too and build a network on Google Plus?
You don’t remember? Go run a search on leaving Facebook for Google Plus or I have moved to G+ and see the blog posts from some of the industry “leaders” that have been and still are constantly leading you astray. Can you hear me now?
Where are they now? They’re on Facebook telling you that you should be doing live video and buying Facebook ads and also promoting some other new platform, shiny tool and again guiding you off like a pied piper who is leading sheep to the slaughter!
Do you remember the Google Hangouts trumpeters that produced or attended live video hangouts daily? Then it moved to Blab, and then… Are you chasing bigfoot, shadows and unicorns?
I could go on about so many other examples, and I just might.
Many of you supporters of these kinds of things are thinking to yourself (or yelling at your screen at me in hopes I will listen to your counter argument) that there’s nothing wrong with this and/or that the industry needs this information from leaders (or you) to explain the newest, greatest, shiniest thing out there. And I would agree that we all must be educated about industry changes, new platforms and technologies, however there is a difference.
When you lead people through your popularity (often incorrectly called influence), you have a responsibility to tell people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear, or more specifically what they SHOULD hear. When you preach these latest trends as fact and the way they should go, many sheep will follow your every word. When they do, they spend countless hours trying to do what you are doing. But your product is YOU and the revenue you generate from doing these time-wasting things, however your sheep have to actually make money doing something effective and there is the problem.
What I See In The Digital Marketing Industry
Do you think I am too cynical? I may be, (more on that in my closing paragraph) however let me show you just what I see in the industry right now.
1- Guys that auto-post and auto DM spam on Twitter, out of a job every 6 months or so then beg their community to help them get hired, only to either leave to another job or be fired again. These same guys now speaking on stage as if they have something that everyone should listen to about Snapchat. Expert? I think not!
2- I see marketing industry “experts” and wannabe’s that have spent two years using and promoting Blab, all the while telling you why you should be also. Creating content about it like crazy, attending hours of Blab chats and creating their own and trying to build a following, only to have nearly everyone now abandon the platform after Blab made changes to become a real business with income and a scalable business model. A waste of time? Ya think???
3- I see the new Pokemon Go craze taking these same people down some rabbit hole of promoting advertising on a new platform when many don’t even have clients that they have tested it with and proven it’s effectiveness. How do you have time to be playing another latest game craze if you are actually DOING digital marketing and making money? How come people aren’t asking these questions before relying on or hiring these people to consult them or to manage their marketing for them?
Has common sense gone the way of Hollywood in digital marketing? I think maybe it has and for some time.
Am I Jaded About Marketers?
Listen, because I want to be really clear here. I have no dog in this hunt. I am not jealous, I have no interest in being an internet celebrity, a speaker or an author. I would like to think that my motivations are pure, in that I am tired of seeing really smart people I know and like chasing after things that keep them broke. I am tired of speaking with new clients and hearing the horror stories of the time and expense they have lost due to these same people stealing from them or teaching them things that wastes their time and/or kills their brand. I am tired of watching the narrative change from this shiny thing to the next, rather than the real discussion of results, proper strategies and an integrated long-term approach to marketing results.
I feel like I am watching the digital marketing industry go the way of used car salesmen of the 1970’s and 80’s. Snake oil anyone?
To The Brand: As a long-time digital marketing professional, I want to speak to the brand executive, business owner and startup that is reading this. If you’re still reading to this point in my post, you have likely had a sense in your gut that something was wrong, but couldn’t really put it into words. You have seen some of what I have written about here and are struggling to make sense of all the conflicting messages.
Understand this – some of the most successful, effective and experienced marketers I know, won’t be found on any stage or writing a book. You won’t find them with the largest followings that drive their notoriety and fame online. You won’t find them writing or producing videos about the latest thing that they are now using 24/7 and proclaiming their expertise in it. Why? They are frankly just too busy doing exceptional digital marketing work for themselves and their clients, getting real, measurable results.
The fact is, if you ARE doing exceptional digital marketing, you don’t have time to chase shiny objects or video your every movement throughout the day. You’re actually executing real integrated, effective digital marketing!
To The Marketer: I challenge my marketing friends (some who may have disowned me after this post) to think critically. Many of you are incredibly smart and talented, but have been sucked into the false expectations of being like some of the people who have created fame and fortune online. Be mindful of your time and use it wisely. Go after results, growth and revenue that is scalable. Understand that your time is the most valuable thing you have and once you waste it, you will not get it back.
The Softer Side Of Ranting
I want to make sure that my rant is not misunderstood or even misconstrued to be hate here. I am all for the success of my friends and peers in this industry. I am all about seeing people lead and do amazing profitable things. I am very supportive of those breaking out into new things that include books and speaking based on their success through actually executing what they speak about. Please don’t take my points as anything other than exactly what I wrote.
Prefer to watch and listen? Here’s my Facebook live talk on this subject this morning.
I don’t know much about Pokemon Go or Snapchat for that matter. I don’t know much about Blab or the numerous other shiny objects that have come and gone in this industry. But I have failed enough in business and marketing to learn from mistakes and make them valuable.
I am highly knowledgeable and experienced at getting a new client ROI in less than 60 days with an integrated digital marketing program that incorporates strategy and execution that delivers results. Why? We do it every day! I am experienced with taking a client startup through branding, messaging, launch and a complete digital marketing program with content and inbound lead generation and sales. Why? Because we do it daily. We know how to create 10+ top notch pieces of new blog content per week and 20 professional graphics, because we do it for our clients. I also know how to increase a new client’s search rankings through best practices and exceptional content creation to transform their traffic and results online quickly, because we do it.
The point here is, my team and I educate ourselves on the new things that come along when it is important for our clients marketing programs. We invest the time to understand new marketing platforms and technologies that are required for a specific strategy or niche marketing. We also value our time more than anything else. If what we are doing doesn’t scale, we avoid doing it. Find the marketers, consultants and agencies that are DOING exceptional work and work with them. Learn from those executing ROI through their marketing and build relationships with them.
</rant> (end rant for those who don’t know html)
I couldn’t possibly love this post any more. I’m all for keeping up and having your finger on the pulse of what’s happening out there; but as you say, there IS a difference. Knowing how to have a COMPLETE, well-rounded strategy that isn’t hedging all bets on a new, untested platform is something I’m seeing less and less of, and quite frankly, it’s worrisome. Everything has the potential of being a “flash in the pan” – why are people rushing out so quickly, before it’s even proven whether or not it has WORTH, to “be the first”?? I don’t understand how being “first” is beneficial if you’re a start-up or small business with a lot to lose, I’m sorry. If you’re Coca Cola, fine; be adventurous and try things – you can afford to, and you already have a good, solid strategy in place. Without that forward-moving plan, you’re basically doing nothing but guessing – and guessing can be brand-damaging AND very costly. Just ridiculous.
However Tabatha, the interesting point is “Coca Cola” and other enormous brands DON’T jump in early. Yes, they have the resources to do it, they also have the wisdom to NOT do it. :-)
Glad you liked the post and thank you for the support.
EXACTLY! That was sort of the point I was making, in a roundabout way; they can afford to, but they still don’t. That in and of itself should tell us all we need to know.
I don’t really see this as a rant, Robert. I’ve known you for a long time. I get your point, and I agree that the shiny objects are fun for a minute – and i LOVE watching others have fun, playing with them. I’ll dabble here and there on ones that look interesting to me (Snapchat), but for reasons other than leading clients there to “drink”. More for my own experimenting/testing/and having a way to communicate with my nieces and nephews who prefer texting/snapchatting to talking (at times, not all the time), for example. I can’t tell you how much insight i get into their everyday lives, seriously, and as an overprotective Auntie, it’s important.
From a business development standpoint? I still with the major leagues. I remember the Google Plus thing and ironically, i learned about Google Hangouts because i attended one on Oct. 13, 2013, to support you being interviewed there. It was an interesting platform, i “met” some quality people there, and it ALWAYS concerned me that the “purists” there were making grandiose, broad-sweeping statements about the “way things are” and how Facebook was dead.
I knew better. My business instincts are keen, and I am fortunate in that regard. I was raised by people who, like you, have their feet firmly rooted to the business grounds they inhabit.
I could go on and on, you and I have had MANY conversations about all this stuff, and the bottom line is that, without shaming or blaming any one individual, I appreciate that you bring common sense, timeless wisdom, and passion to our industry. I don’t know what we would do without your voice, Robert. I appreciate your humble approach, and also your strength, and courage of your convictions. Don’t ever change that. You and I are champions for brands who are conscious, and committed to growth, using amazing tools.
By the way, I STILL have yet to update my OWN website/blog, based on your amazing insight and suggestions. I will get there. Fortunately, I’m PRODUCING great work and results for my clients, and also trying to keep tabs (helping my sibs with their kids) on a gang of teenagers who seem to need more eyes-on then when they were babies….i know you feel me there. I’ll be sharing this post. In fact, i already tweeted it!!
I am grateful for the love and comments Lynn. I am also proud to see how far you’ve come and the amazing business woman you are. Keep on keeping on Lynn!