It has to be one of the best episodes of Seinfeld ever (granted, I’d probably say that about every episode), but there is the one where our friend, George Costanza, gives up on (pretty much) everything and decides to do the exact opposite of what he normally does. The punchline is that things start working out for Georgie Boy. In the recent past, I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to diverse groups of people – from private to public sector and from small business to multi-nationals – and the talking points I’m hearing back are all the same. It happens when I speak, and I hear similar sentiments in client meetings, etc… Whether we’re talking Social Media and Web 2.0 or even in discussions around – what I call – traditional online marketing (Websites, landing pages, micro sites, display advertising, email, search, etc…). "We can’t get our heads around it," "what’s the ROI?", "are there case studies?"… mostly the conversation revolves are two salient points:
1. Does our company have the right culture to embrace this?
2. Is this guaranteed to work?
Digital Marketing, as it stands, will fail every time with these two barriers. Don’t get me wrong, once you embrace and put the time in, the results are there, but I’ve got some bad news: there are no guarantees, and having Twist Image (or anyone else) build you a website will never change your corporate culture.
There’s the old business maxim that, "change comes from within."
I’m constantly surprised by a lack of wanting to really push the boundaries when it comes to Marketing, Communications and these new Digital channels. Part of the sadness comes from the fact that it is pretty easy to dismiss. A simple "there’s no proof" or "so and so couldn’t make it work" and the ideas are shelved forever. This is not about promoting rugged individualism, but it is about going back to the core of Marketing: communicating a company vision to the masses.
So, when you’re sitting in those Marketing and Communications meeting, and someone suggests that the company start a Blog, instead of questioning the culture or looking for some form of guarantee on the ROI, stop yourself. Stop, and think about George Costanza. What if all the options were gone? What if every time you used the judgement you’ve exercised to date it did not work out? What if you pulled a Costanza and did the exact opposite? What would George Costanza do (hint: sleeping under your desk is not the right answer).
What do you have to loose? All too often, Marketers worry more about CLMs (Career Limiting Moves) over KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). The Digital Marketing landscape is not that well-manicured yet. The renegades and adventurers are having big wins and gaining uncontested marketshare. The more I see Marketers hesitate when it comes to trying out Marketing initiatives online, the more I want them to watch that specific episode of Seinfeld in hopes that it gets them thinking, and that it doesn’t come off as tragic comedy.