The Haters

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The Haters will tell you…

  • Blogging doesn’t have a ROI.
  • A tweet is worthless.
  • Getting someone to "like" your Facebook page doesn’t increase your sales.
  • A viral video may get millions of views, but there is no economic value to it.
  • Marketing your business on LinkedIn is a huge waste of time.
  • No one will switch over from Facebook to Google +.
  • People don’t use branded apps.
  • Search Engine Marketing is loosing its luster.
  • Nobody listens to Podcasts anymore.
  • Social Media doesn’t provide enough exposure for a brand.
  • Not enough people are using mobile to make it worth the investment for a brand at this point.

…and the hits just keep on coming.

The truth is that The Haters are right. You actually don’t need anything in the above list to be successful in Marketing. There are many very well-respected and well-earning brands that don’t use any of the channels and platforms above and they’re doing quite fine, thank you very much. There are also many brands who are doing everything above and not experiencing any kind of significant success from where they were prior to getting engaged in the digital channels.

It sounds like heresy.

Hardly. Success in Digital Marketing (and here’s a bigger hint: success in anything) is not about the averages or the individuals. Success is about the framework that you create. The brands that struggle to uncover ROI in Digital Marketing are usually lacking the right mental framework (the other challenge is that they’re often brands that are simply not all that interesting to people, or that the brands aren’t doing anything interesting that is worthy of the audience’s attention).

What does a "mental framework" look like?

It has nothing to do with attitude or posture, it has to do with leveraging your corporate strategy to create a series of business outcomes and choosing the right channels and platforms that can get you there with the best efficacy. The challenge is that most brands will not (do not) create a new mental framework. Instead, they base everything on frameworks of the past. It’s a choice to believe and follow this new mental framework. Change is hard.

What does this the old mental framework sound like?

  • "If I make a video on YouTube, I want it to do better than my TV advertising."
  • "We want to make a Facebook Page, but we need it to tie-into our out-of-home advertising."
  • "If I put the time into Twitter, I need it to do more for me than my weekly flyers in the newspaper."
  • "The money I spend on building an app could be used instead to create a contest."

…and the hits just keep on coming.

It’s not that comparing your lines of media is a bad idea. It’s that comparing anything to lines of media that been delivering diminishing returns (and based on old mental frameworks) is a bad idea. It’s also that by doing any form of comparison that is not "apples to apples" will always lead you to one answer: doing the same thing that you were doing before. New business models are weird because they look weird, feel weird, act weird and react weird. We’re humans. Our natural instinct is to be avoid anything and everything weird. We tend to learn the hard way (and often) that the new weird is (sometimes) the new norm.

A personal tale of weird:

My career started as a professional journalist (when I say "professional," I mean "paid"). Blogging seems like the most counterintuitive strategy ever (write a lot more, much more frequently, respond to as many people as you can, promote an entirely new publishing channel… all for free). Removing the averages and the individuals, Blogging was the smartest strategy I have deployed for my own, professional development to date. In fact, when I started Blogging, I had left professional journalism. I was already the President of Twist Image, and as a Digital Marketing agency, I was leveraging the platform (and my passion for writing) to share my thoughts on the new Digital Marketing landscape. It was very weird to be writing so much for free. If you’re reading this, you know how the story ends. Along with the visibility and credibility that this Blog continues to build for our agency, it has also propelled me back into journalism (and yes, in many instances, I am being paid to write articles and columns for magazines, newspapers and websites). While I don’t write for the money (the exposure and experience is much more valuable at this point), the whole experience of changing my values from, "my words are worth money and I should be paid to write," to "while writing may bring me a comfortable income, perhaps Blogging can be a pillar in building wealth" was a new mental framework that definitely felt weird (and sometimes, it still does).

The Haters want things to stay the way they are/the way they were.

Most businesspeople don’t want change (most people don’t want change). They’re busy spending their time trying to figure out how to make the old ways of working work more effectively. New mental frameworks are always about trying to bring progress. Personally, that was always the vision of everything you see being published and the work we’re trying to do at Twist Image: it’s about bringing progress to the Marketing industry. The Haters aren’t looking for progress. The Haters are looking at the averages… and who wants to be average?

What do you think?


  1. “The Haters want things to stay the way they are/the way they were.”
    Truer words have not been spoken, errm, typed. 🙂
    Those same haters allow the rest of us to thrive so wonderfully, keep on hatin’, haters.

  2. I think as the speed at which culture evolves increases, we will see each generation throw off the fear of change (year by year / new technology by new technology) – till adaptability / flexibility are the norm rather than the exception.
    In marketing, as in life, success tends to be driven through a blend of moderation, innovation and excellence. Social Media is currently part of the tools available and will work more for some than others)…. Fail to use them (in moderative / innovative and excellent fashion) – and you are missing out…
    Enjoy reading your blogs Mitch

  3. Traditional advertising continues to drive the old mental framework of a transaction-based relationship: a short-term sale (of a product / service). Getting the consumer to reach into his/her wallet quickly is all that matters.
    Establishing trust and building credibility first is the foundation of the new mental framework. It takes longer (i.e., “In Praise of Slow”). And, when we figure out how to measure it, I believe the new mental framework will drive measurable increases in customer loyalty or repeat business.
    The new relationship model is an annuity based on trust. For the long run, I’m placing my bets here.

  4. Excellent post, as always. I’m bookmarking this one for when the haters DO strike again! Thanks for putting my thoughts on this into words!

  5. Ah yes Mitch, the”Haters”or the insecure who fear failure and trying something new….Not a comfort zone for our corporate culture where we are taught early to exploit weakness and attack competition. I remember starting my corporate career at a major company and happy to share my weaknesses and strengths with my manager. Within 24 hrs he used this against me in a discussion. I shared a story about the best teams I played on in my soccer career were the ones where we new everyone’s strengths and weakness but most importantly we accentuated our team members strengths. If this simple concept was accepted in the corporate world just think how amazing we could become….. Keep building the trust! Thanks Mitch!

  6. Let the haters hate. Stop trying to convince them to change. Instead, politely show them the door and focus on finding clients that want to embrace the new and “weird” world of social business. The haters will either disappear or morph into embracers. But who am I to be telling Mitch Joel how to run his business 😉
    Keep it coming, Mitch!
    And Tony, I love an “annuity based on trust”. I’m going to use that, if it’s ok with you.

  7. It’s actually sad that “haters” have to hate…because it destroys a level of creativity that could bring fresh ideas and perspective to the business community IMO.
    That being said…I’m a fan of what Jay Palter said above…”politely show them the door.” Very eloquently said Jay 🙂
    We have to “move on” from the haters…the only real way to determine if an idea will work in business is to test it…learn and adapt…then test it again IMO.

  8. As usual, you’re RIGHT on the money (literally!). This has been an absolutely delightful read. I’m reminded that you’re a good writer too – better than average.
    So I have a question. As a Marketing Agency, do you offer any offline advertising to supplement your digital marketing? Or is it strictly online?

  9. Blogging is the new media. Bloggers sometimes do not get the attention that they deserve, that is until they reach a mainstream audience that finally realizes the talent behind the blog. To write hour after hour and not really know if there will be a rainbow at the end, it only seems that an insane person would try it! It’s quite obvious that the old mental framework is losing grip in today’s changing market. As you remarked, many just don’t seem to get it. Great job!

  10. Mitch,
    I don’t have a degree in business or marketing so I look at things pretty simply. In the “old world”, if I set up shop on Main Street my main goal would be to get people to come through the door. To get repeat customers I’d have to be a good listener and be service oriented. Some people would be curious about my inventory, some of which they’d see in my window. But the long-term relationships would develop over time. Word- of- mouth sales would increase if I offered quality products and service. I think blogging and other social networking tools let a person look in the “window” and see what you’re all about. It’s about relationship-building. That’s what it all boils down to for people like me. The one customer who tells all his friends is more credible than me,a stranger. My job then is to invite one person in at a time. Great post! Betsy

  11. Mitch, I think you have captured my sentiments exactly. We know we’re doing something right when the haters start paying attention… must have struck a nerve. Well done! Leslie

  12. YES! YES! YES! A new framework! Why don’t people get that? We’re so busy trying to make the current system ‘efficient’…..
    “They’re busy spending their time trying to figure out how to make the old ways of working work more effectively. New mental frameworks are always about trying to bring progress.:
    When what we should be doing is creating new systems. I see this everywhere around me. business, politics, education….we creators have SO MUCH TO DO!!!!! 🙂

  13. Mitch, great post and this is so true: “success in anything is about the framework that you create.” And I think that when you’re a pioneer you have to be prepared for pushback that comes from those who cannot yet see what you see. You’re one of those pioneers and it’s important not to get distracted by the nonbelievers. 🙂

  14. Love this post – especially the last line: “The Haters are looking at the averages… and who wants to be average?”
    There is so much truth to that. I think we just have to be careful that we’re not swayed by the haters. It’s hard to face criticism and sometimes, we trick ourselves into believing their nonsense. We have to stay true to ourselves and be willing to push the envelope. If you take a risk and dare to be different, the results can be amazing!

  15. Blogging is a plank in your platform–but it is one of many. Your mind-set is one of the reasons that I wanted you to write the foreword to The Age of the Platform, Mitch.

  16. Hmmm Change is hard. I believed that until someone pointed out how easy it was for us all to learn how to go from typewriters to desktops to laptops to ipads to… Where there’s value change will follow. Guess they just aren’t seeing the value yet?

  17. Just wanted to throw this out there, since it seems that there is hardly a business-person here, but you can quite easily compare ROI on two completely different forms of media. There is nothing wrong with comparing ROI on Twitter to ROI on your newsletter. In fact, if you AREN’T, you are not a “marketing professional”, you’re a fraud who is giving digital marketers a bad name.
    The thing is, it’s almost painfully easy to put a solid ROI on every tweet you send out, every facebook page, every branded app. And since ROI is the same metric no matter what the medium, they are very comparable.
    So it’s not actually “haters” who are telling you that Digital Marketing isn’t always the right idea and needs to be measured and quantitatively compared to “the old way of doing things”, it’s actual professionals who have made a lifetime of studying things like consumer branding behavior and lifetime customer values.
    I understand where you’re coming from. It’s painful listening to someone reject digital marketing on reasons that essentially boil down to “It’s new and I’m scared of it”. But you should be able to counter these arguments easily by presenting things like cost/benefit analyses of your plan vs. what a company is already doing, or by pointing to case studies of existing clients and companies that are similar and have tried similar programs with good results that beat existing marketing campaigns, full of metrics and numbers and real, solid projections.
    The bottom line is that if you’re proposing a digital marketing program, and your only argument is “it’s new, quit holding on to the past.” then you are not a marketer. You are a fraud. You are stealing your customers money without providing anything in return. And you are part of the problem. You are the reason that selling digital marketing services is so much harder now than it was even a year ago. If everything you do is not perfectly focused and targeted on increasing bottom line profits for your clients, you are a leech sucking this industry dry and not leaving anything for the people who are actually innovating the field.
    So please, before you let the congratulatory high-fives get to your head, put up or shut up. That goes for all the commenters as well. If you’re going to proclaim the death of the old way of doing things, show me some numbers. Give me some reasons. Why is the “new way of thinking” any better than the “old way of thinking”? How is it any different? And better yet, what IS the old way of thinking? Because the more people I talk to, the more I realize that most digital marketers don’t have a clue.
    Or, in the words of Mack Collier, and I almost feel dirty for using him to back up my point, “Be Awesome” is not a social marketing strategy.
    /Full Disclosure: I am a digital marketer. I hate most digital marketers.

  18. Speak to the folks at Google about resistance. They can practically guarantee success to major brands (with the data and analytics to back it up).. still… it’s slow going and lots of very traditional mindset and structures. Sadly.
    That being said, I’m with you on the ROI and analytics.

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