The Shortcomings We Tolerate

Internet MarketingIn our business — media, marketing, publishing, ad tech or whichever combination with which you self-identify — on our most effusive days, we marvel at our own progress. It’s a point of pride to have participated in the evolution, regardless of when you dipped in your toe and joined it: 80s, 90s, later or even last year.

Yet, as a collective industry, there is a list of things we continue to allow to hinder us. Limiting mindsets; lack of understanding, commitment or investment; complacency; or even the exaggeration of our limitations themselves. You may have heard the famous Richard Bach quote — argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours.

And, when you look at the specifics, at this point of our professed evolution, most of these shortcoming are just too bad. And solvable. Let’s start at the beginning.

We Are Embarrassed By Our Own Websites

Almost any company I can think of — in almost any category — will tell you their website is off. It’s ugly, incomplete, confusing, un-optimized or outright broken. In fact, I’ve heard this self-disparagement five times in the past weeks alone.

Despite the fact that we are now certifiably a cross-channel, multi-platform communications, community and transactional universe, our original state of being — the domain — is for all intents and purposes, still a mess. Why? Because we never took the time to decide the purpose of the platform in the first place, with the right people at the table. We designed and built without a sense of that purpose.

Is it a communications platform? A lead generation tool? For the community? For commerce? And, we did not leave real room for change, over time, to support our own business growth. Granted, for most of us, the domain is now part of a much bigger, more distributed picture. But, it’s never too late to regroup on purpose — refresh design, visual presentation, visible content, and utility — and then take steps to optimize it. At least do what it takes to eliminate confusion at a glance.

We Have Not Organized For Content

Most companies have come to terms with the “idea” of being media companies — that content plays a very real role in how we market our services, companies, and brands. But, for most of us, this remains an abstract concept. It’s anything but. Content is an actual asset that takes many forms, but it’s our primary, living, breathing asset. And, we must organize and equip to tend to it.

So, what are we waiting for? Well, the work can be daunting. Divisions, organization charts, roles must be dialed in. We must acquire and train talent; we must hone expertise. And, on some level, we must consider our investments — content management and curation systems. But, until we go there, it seems we tolerate operating in a disjointed uncommitted state of affairs.

The best news is there are some really fantastic examples of companies and leadership that took the time to get it right: with models, org structures, systems and more — all flowing from a unified Content Strategy. Look no further than Altimeter Group’s Rebecca Lieb‘s latest report, Organizing for Content: Models to Incorporate Content Strategy and Content Marketing in the Enterprise, for guidance and real world illustration of best practices in each of these areas.

We Defer To Kids & Gurus

We assume both know more than they do because they are so into it. Social media should no more be entirely relegated to the isolated intern ensconced in the corner with ear buds and 2,000 friends, without training and collaborative team work — than we should trust the guru, just because he tells you he’s the one.

This one is easy to fix. Take your talent plan seriously, vet your options and build a team. Not a stack of self-professed specialists. You want a thriving mix of experience, personalities, talents and skills that benefits by that mix.

We Believe Our Audience Is A Static Object

How many marketers have you met that can tell you exactly who their audience is? The answer is: a lot. Most brands will tell you exactly who their consumer is, by demographics and maybe a few lifestyle points. This glib marketer is common. He or she moves around in this limited state, not having embraced the power of audience-based planning, buying and optimization — simply placing media against a fixed snapshot.

Thanks to today’s systems, tools and state of data analytics options — we are able to target and optimize our known audience but also uncover entirely new, productive audiences. So, why in the world wouldn’t we? That learning-based approach — tapping the combination of machines plus smart people among us — allows us to scale on targeted reach. And that’s the ultimate — right?

What else? We think mobility equals the smart phone and the smart phone alone; we focus on brand advertising instead of brand experience; we awfulize Big Data instead of realizing it doesn’t take much to learn a lot. The list goes on and on.

All of the above and numerous other things are the things that, despite our self love as an industry, we don’t love or respect enough about our own enterprises to do the work to make it right. We boast and love our progress; yet, in a million little ways that add way up, we seem to fear it.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Strategy | Search Marketing Column


About The Author: serves numerous media and data technology clients for WIT Strategy as a Senior Associate in corporate affairs and media relations, as her primary engagement. She also runs collaborative pursuits through her company, Influence Collective, LLC. -- advising and supporting media and tech entrepreneurs in cooperation with other trusted partners and firm principals.

Sign Up To Get This Newsletter Via Email:  


Other ways to share:

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. You can read more about our comments policy here.
  • http://http// PageRankSEO

    Is poor grammar just such a shortcoming for which we must now settle? How does placing a dangling preposition in the Title and H1 elements garner better business?

  • Korneliusz Krause

    its so true and important for your marketing connect all of this parts. Sometime your selling can grow 500% because of this. Good luck

  • Jeff McNeill

    Really scraping the bottom of the content idea barrel here. Better not to write such nonsense, or spend the time learning about ideas that actually might be useful.

  • Chris Elwell

    Haters gonna hate, Jeff. 22 comments, no followers and no one following you. Do you really exist?

  • Pamela Parker Caird

    I’ll take the credit for this as editor. I thought about changing the title to “The Shortcomings For Which We Settle” but that sacrifices a conversational tone for correctness. Still, it’s a fair point and I’ve changed the title to be more grammatically correct.


Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Marketing Land on Twitter @marketingland Like Marketing Land on Facebook Follow Marketing Land on Google+ Subscribe to Our Feed! Join our LinkedIn Group Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest


Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States


Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech

Free Daily Marketing News!

Marketing Day is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!