There Are No Stupid Questions

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We make wrong assumptions all of the time and it’s about time we woke up, realized it and fixed it.
What am I talking about now?
Wikipedia, Blogs, Podcast, RSS, Viral Marketing, SMS, Search Engine Marketing, Reciprocated Links, In-Game Advertising, and on and on… Let’s wake up and smell the confusion. Most people do not know what those words mean, let alone how it works and why they should care.
I’m not saying that people who read, write or even comment on Blogs are smarter marketers. I am saying that we owe it to people to not make assumptions. We owe it to ourselves to spend some time going back to basics and explaining what the channel is versus why it’s important to marketers.
A simple link to Wikipedia will not solve this. This also has little to do with building a better FAQ.
Why now?
I was just listening to Joseph Jaffe‘s Podcast, Across The Sound Episode #51, and finished reading MarketingSherpa’s Practical Podcasting Guide For Marketers. I started reflecting on the positive feedback I have received for the segment Six Points Of Separation – which are quick tactics every one can do – from my Podcast, Six Pixels Of Separation – The Twist Image Podcast, and it struck me that everyone will know what Podcasting is… very soon. The numbers may seem nascent now, but that just means people are unaware about the basics, like you don’t need an iPod to listen to Podcasts. Like a Podcast is just an MP3 file… digital audio… something you can listen to on any computer that has a sound card and speakers.
People are intimidated by all of these buzzwords. You mean I don’t need a Mac to listen to a Podcast? You mean a Podcast doesn’t work only on an iPod? How does this all work? Is it free? Where is iTunes? How does iTunes connect to my iPod? Do I need an iPod to connect to iTunes or will any digital audio device work? How does iTunes “speak” to my player? What’s the point in subscribing to a Podcast? And, who the hell subscribes to an audio program?
If I were to guess why Marketers are so scared of technology, it’s because technology does allow you to do a lot, but it’s never been great at really breaking down the complex into a simple and easy-to-understand format, so that everyone can see the beauty of Blogging or Podcasting as we do. Marketers don’t want to let go of the 30-second spot in lieu of a social media environment because it goes against the pillar of controlling the brand. It also means that we have to look at consumers as individuals instead of CPM.
And that’s the final challenge. I don’t have to convince you about this. You’re reading Blogs, you’ve got RSS, you’re either listening to or thinking about starting your own Podcast, and you’re working through new and engaging ways to have conversations with your customers.
You get Social Media.
Just remember, this is still very new. And, as Marketers, we do have to spend a little more time on education of the basics versus digging down deep into The Long Tail of marketing. This means both internally (to our peers) and to our customers (including clients and people who are interested in your conversation).
It’s a tall order, but we can do it.
So, the next time you start going off on how the client needs a Podcast, be sure to take moment and ask the person you are with if they know what a Podcast is.


  1. This post was perfect timing for me! I just read an article “Reality Check” from the August 21, 2006 addtion of Advertising Age… I was so surprised to see that so few people get social media! The buzzwords – like podcasts, blogs, etc. – get tossed around so frequently that I thought more people were engaged. I have a business selling downloadable mp3 affirmations and I was a little discouraged by the stats from the article. Can it really be that 71% of 12-17 year olds have never paid to download music? Am I a bit ahead of the times? How long do you think it will be before the majority of people are engaged in social media and the digital world?
    Kirsten Harrell, Psy.D.

  2. To reiterate Kirsten…perfect timing on this post!
    I’ve talked to 3 marketing/communication people in the last week who asked me what exactly constitutes ‘social media’. The question came up because i was talking about our (AIMS) Sept. 20th event. We titled the event “How Social Media is Changing Everything You Know”. I didn’t for a moment think of defining or expanding on the term Social Media. If 3 people asked I wonder how many others have the same question but haven’t raised their hand. I definitely think we need to get back to basics on some of this stuff. I really like your suggestion of starting with “Do you know what is?”

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