As he is wont to do, Michael Schechter said something very interesting, this time on a recent post of mine (this one over here). Here is what Michael said:
It’s become more about the people than the work or even the subject at hand. If we just shifted our focus from our feelings to the subject at hand, we’d be stronger for it… as would the space as a whole. Because the real problem is that the fear of hurting someones feelings (and to an equal extent, people’s inability to make a point without doing so) just takes us away from what’s really important, examining and learning about whatever subject is at hand.
This has been rolling around in my head for awhile now when it comes especially to how we can help businesses online. It seems like there is always a thread in the online world that goes one of two ways.
1. All agencies are evil. They over-promise, under-deliver, and rip companies off.
2. Social Media experts are evil. They over-promise, under-deliver, and rip companies off.
While it may be companies that begin these conversations, aforementioned agency types and social media types tend to add fuel to the fire. An agency person (or someone who was in marketing long before social media was born) may say something like, “Oh yeah, those social media types have NO idea what they are talking about.” Meanwhile the social media folks may write about how agencies have no idea how to work in the new world of marketing.
The problem is that both sides are making some interesting points, but what is being forgotten, per Michael’s comment, is that all of these points should be noted and explored in an effort to help the companies we are working with and for. Attacking other people on Twitter or in the blogosphere really doesn’t do anything except propagate the worst rumors about everybody.
With all of that said, let’s talk about some of the accusations that are floating around out there. How can we analyze these issues in a way that will actually help companies out? Let’s see what we can do.
Agencies say…Social Media folks don’t understand a lot of basic marketing concepts.
If you are steeped in the world of social media, you’ve probably heard that your brand is basically your logo. Maybe you heard that ROI doesn’t exist in the online world or that it stands for “Return on Influence.” Maybe you’ve heard that B2B has been replaced by Person-to-Person business. Maybe you’ve heard that cold-calling is stupid and print is dead.
What companies need to know: Branding encapsulates so much more than just your logo or what color choices you use on your company website. Branding means molding the experience your customers will have with you and molding the experience your employees will have with you. It means having a vision and a mission. It means communicating consistently across any platform you might touch. If you do not fully grasp your company brand, it will be very difficult to create any type of marketing campaign that will be truly effective.
If you do not understand ROI, your company could go broke and you will have no idea why.
As for various marketing tactics that have been declared dead, for some companies it may be true, for others it could not be further from the truth. Companies will benefit from researching from their own unique vantage point and seeing what will work best for them.
I just had this conversation this morning with author Jeremy Waite, who said, “Not a fan of “full service” as it often tends to be a compromise.” I have a feeling a lot of people may feel that way, unfortunately.
What companies need to know: If an agency, especially a one-person agency, says that they can do absolutely everything for you on their own, you should probably be suspicious. The strength of the agency in today’s modern world is that they can become a hub for your company. For example, our agency works with videographers, voice-over talent, SEO companies, printers, and other vendors. These partners add to our capabilities, and our ability to network with these companies takes the strain off of the clients we work with. We do the back-and-forth, we interface on behalf of our clients, and we inform our partners when it comes to our clients’ expectations.
That being said, we can also offer a lot in-house. We can create literature, press releases, advertisements, booth graphics, websites, and more. We call ourselves a full-service marketing firm but only offer the strongest solutions to our clients. If that means we need to network with a vendor, hey, we do that. I’m sure many other agencies and marketers do as well. The ones that do not are the ones that give all of us a bad name.
And remember – something as simple and banal as proofreading takes two people. If a person is claiming to be a one-person marketing master, your alerts should buzz at level red.
Agencies and Social Media people say…the other guys do nothing but offer silver bullets
Whether the words used are along the lines of “Snake-oil salesmen” or “complete rip-offs,” you will often hear one group calling the other a bunch of charlatans.
What companies need to know: There are NO silver bullets. If someone offers to create a viral video for you, back away. If someone suggests you purchase online followers, back away. If someone says that x tactic that has worked for you for years “is dead,” back away. If someone says that social media is a fad, back away.
In fact, whether you are dealing with a social media expert or an agency person, there are a few key indicators that you can look for that will tell you to put your guard up.
• They sell their services to you based on how many Twitter followers they have
• They offer you a marketing proposal *before* talking to you
• They call themselves a guru – of anything
• They pronounce any marketing tactic as “dead” before talking to you
• They talk only about themselves
The list goes on and on.
The bottom line is that these are hard times. I don’t know if you noticed, but the world economy is still going through a pretty tough time (although there may be some faint light filtering through that end of the tunnel). What marketers, social media people, anyone who works with companies really need to focus on is how to help their clients. Yes, there is a fire hose of information to absorb. Yes, a lot of things are new, and a lot of the old things have changed. Just keeping up with all of that should be enough to occupy our time – so we can assist our clients.
If you help enough companies succeed, you won’t need to have a smarts contest on Twitter or on your blog. Your work will speak for itself. Whether you are rooted in the agency world, the social media world, or *gasp* both.
What do you think? Can we alter our focus away from the mad-dog-attack-everyone style and work towards helping companies succeed?
1st Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hodac/2268933474/ via Creative Commons
2nd Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/petesimon/3365916854/ via Creative Commons