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The Shortcomings We Tolerate
In 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.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.