Go Through The Process Start To Finish

Recently my friend John Boitnott (who we’ve interviewed here at The Future Buzz) and I were discussing why so much digital marketing we see is painful to watch.

I shared my thoughts that I was in essence surprised. Surprised that it is 2011 and there is still a huge gap in the successes and failures of businesses using the web for marketing and building community citing examples such as how most corporate blogs are still basically unreadable.

In 2005 I had thought that companies would pivot quickly and by now we’d get to focus on simply helping pour fuel on top of successfully lit fires. More than five years later this is still not the case for a majority of brands.

After some thought, our insight was basically this: the problem (and solution) is you need to go through the process first. So few people have done this. To anyone here who has built a community from the ground up: think about the effort, passion and sacrifice that went into it. As part of it, you gained critical knowledge such as:

A lot, right? That’s the point. And the above list is just the tip of the iceberg. The hard truth to face is you can’t expect to understand how to effectively execute any sort of digital marketing strategy successfully unless you have actually done so from the ground up. Theory is not enough here, there’s just too much involved.

And our sense from looking at what is happening around the web is that a lot of people were thrown into roles but haven’t personally seen a project through from start to finish. It is like being a fighter pilot who has only used flight simulators and is suddenly thrown into a real jet and put into a war scenario. It’s just not the same thing, and also why social media certification is absurd.

I would be reticent to ever hire someone certified in social media and actually might count this as a strike against someone. The reason is, if they had really gone through the process themselves of building a web community from the ground up they wouldn’t need to be certified. That is how you learn.

Our other observation was most businesses, marketers and media are chasing the wrong thing. They all want easy, campaign-based, turnkey samples of success vs. long term platform oriented growth. But it is not as simple as checking a box. Shifting your approach to communications to be inbound instead of outbound and becoming media yourself is a big commitment. No one ever said organic marketing was easy. It’s also not short term or something you do once. But it is your new bread and butter for spreading messages (if you actually want to be heard).

What we need now is experienced, unafraid leaders who have gone through the process themselves from start to finish.