One of the first things I learned in the marketing world was the importance of evaluating publications that I was thinking of proposing for our clients’ advertising campaigns. Once unknown, the world of BPA circulation statements became the norm for me. I evaluated media kits to look at how each publication broke down its audience. Were they the people our clients wanted to reach? Did they ask to receive the publication or was it available on a doctor’s office table?
Not thinking it would be anything apart from logical, I carried that mode of evaluation and thinking into all other facets of marketing that I learned (and I continue to do so as there is always more to learn). You can probably imagine my surprise, then, when I started seeing stories in the blogosphere and on Twitter about how companies that didn’t try everything online were either scared or just way behind the times.
As recently as August 2011, Erik Deckers wrote a post called, “Why Companies Are Afraid of Social Media”
Back in 2009 Mack Collier wrote a post called “Why is your Business Afraid of Negative Blog Posts?”
Also in 2009, BL Ochman wrote an article called “The Top Six Reasons Companies Are Still Scared of Social Media”
More recently, Mitch Joel wrote a post called, “You Are Free To Try Everything,” noting that it is much easier to do so in the online world than it was/is with more “traditional” marketing channels.
Now I will admit that maybe there are some companies out there who get frozen with fear. After all, it’s almost impossible to consider any one sector of the marketing world a 100% known entity, right? Things are changing daily, sometimes by the minute. And the unknown, well, it can be scary. Especially if something like your livelihood depends upon it.
But I would wager there are a few companies out there who are refraining from social media marketing or email marketing or whatever else because they actually know that it will not benefit them as much in the long run. It’s not a fear that xyz won’t work. It’s actually a full-fledged, fruit of research conclusion.
Let me give you an example. A lot of people were saying a couple of years ago that if you weren’t hopping onto the Foursquare wagon, you were really going to regret it. There was not a nuanced segment to this argument. You either were going to try Foursquare or you were a scaredy cat, essentially. But let’s say you’re a B2B medical products manufacturer. Apart from letting your friends know that you have checked in to work, how is Foursquare going to help your company? Are people going to jump into your factory and buy something? Probably not. You probably don’t need it.
Here’s another one. Let’s say you’re any type of company anywhere doing anything. You’ve done some social media research and you’ve discovered that while there are a lot of videos on YouTube relevant to your industry, there’s hardly any action on Twitter or Facebook. Your competitors aren’t there, your customers aren’t there, there is no buzz, there’s just a whole lot of nothing. Are you just being afraid if you fail to jump onto social media at that point? I don’t really see it that way.
There are two other stories that feed into this myth. The first is the celebration of failure that exists in today’s world, and the second is a failure to understand actual costs of marketing tactics that on the surface appear to be free. Let’s talk about that a bit more.
I failed! Woot!
A lot of the people who argue that you should try everything in your marketing efforts are the same people who believe that failure is something to be sought in the business world. If you throw yourself into something and it doesn’t work, well, at least you learned something, right?
Take a look at this recent post by Danny Brown, where he indicates that the Toyota Twitter fiasco is actually the fault of the agency and not the brand. If that is the case and you’re the agency that got Toyota such bad PR, is failure looking like something to celebrate? I’m thinking probably not.
The fact is, there is a ton of pressure on marketers to make sure their efforts reap benefits, not yuck. The idea that you should try everything because failure is just a learning experience has never struck me as being spot on.
But social media is free!
Again, this is a common misconception. Signing up for Twitter is freer than the freest bird. But those people you hired to run your Twitter initiative? Probably not free. Most aspects of blogging are free. Finding someone who can create content for you? Probably not free. For everything that you try, you need people (or your own time) to make it work. Your time is not free either. Or it shouldn’t be anyway. Before you try something, you need to consider what will happen if it actually works really well. You also need to consider how much time (aka money in the business world) you want to invest before you quit.
Don’t feel like you need to try everything. You’re not a scaredy cat or backwards if you don’t jump onto every new platform out there. Just make sure you do everything you need to do to succeed, and you’ll be doing just fine.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikefischer/2517778046/ via Creative Commons