In Praise Of Slow

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Marketers want everything (more sales, more brand awareness, more recall, more word of mouth and more) and they want it fast.

I hazard to guess that the initial run at Online Marketing back in the early nineties was strategic in one sense: "we can do it fast."

To this day, I think most Marketers embracing the Digital Marketing channel do it because they think it will be cheap and cheerful. Take a handful of keywords, link it to some web pages, buy some pay-per-click ads on your favourite search engine, and watch the sales ring up.

Marketers still see Email Marketing as a faster (and cheaper) solution to Direct Marketing.

I think Marketing has it all wrong.

Digital Marketing is about being slow.

Yes, you can make fast decisions, but optimal results take time.

This is a Blog posting in praise of slow.

You can’t quickly start a Blog and get results. It takes time to build your content, find you voice, develop a community and earn trust and respect.

You can’t just publish a Podcast and expect your cash register to start ringing.

You can’t join an online social network and derive any value from it unless you take the time to meet the right people, connect, share, build and grow.

Digital Marketing is not a one night stand (like more traditional advertising – "wham, bam, thank you ma’am").

Digital Marketing is a relationship (at its highest level).

When I last saw Chris Anderson (author of The Long Tail and editor of Wired Magazine) present, he said that over half of all traffic to is to the archive. The older the content, the longer it has been there, the more people who have linked to it, shared it, tagged it, etc… the more valuable it was.

This is a profound learning. One would think that online is all about how fast you can post the latest news with the most cutting-edge insight. Not the case. The longer it has been part of the machine, the more catalogue that is built, the more trust that is gained by people linking to the content, the more valuable and the more growth the brand is having.

Anderson and his team at Wired still rush to post the latest and greatest, but the true value of that content is derived slowly and over time.

Slow does not mean resting on your laurels and not engaging in these new channels. Slow simply means that long-term results take time. There are no shortcuts to success. If you’re starting a Blog and you pre-load posts with made-up questions, or semi-edited snippets of old press releases, you’re not adding value and you are not speeding up the process. In fact, you are probably slowing it down (in this case, slow is bad 😉 – it will take you even longer to correct course and build the right conversation.

So, as the weekend looms ahead, and we all downshift to regain our energy, think about how real Marketing campaigns soar. Think about the time, effort and speed by which great stuff happens… and maintains.

Think about how the concept of "slow" may very well be one of the best kept secrets of truly successful Digital Marketing programs.


  1. Excellent point.
    I think the argument should be made to businesses people that a quick rise can more easily result in a quick fall. Digital, social and new media can offer a solid based (if done well) over time in which to grow and build a quality relationship with prospects and clients.

  2. Sex and Social Media
    Related article from Six Pixels of Separation:
    – In praise of slow by Mitch Joel
    Other articles:
    – There is no “campaign” in social media by Paul Dunay
    – Twelve ways to sell social media to your boss by Chris Brogan

  3. Thanks Mitch. I have been in bioscience for a long time and one thing I have noticed is that science progresses slowly, and my customers are very conservative in adopting new technologies. I market and sell advanced technologies for biomedical research in emerging markets, and as a result also have to educate my customers on what is out there. Trust over the long haul is essential, because the data doesn’t lie (even if some people do) and if the new technology does not work then trust will be severely damaged.
    I have watched with great dismay how big companies buy small innovative bioscience technology companies in order to bolster next quarter’s results and somehow the customer gets lost. The common notion that somehow a quick rise in the market can benefit the bioscience community (and the larger community as well) speaks to the need for some patience. Focus, patience and service – this seems to be the path forward in both bioscience and marketing.

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