‘It’s the year of statutory interpretation’ - said the lawyer!
‘It’s the year of dentures’ - said the dentist!
‘It’s the year of of English Literature’ - said the teacher!
‘It’s the year of auditing’ - said the accountant!
I could go on and on, but I’m pretty sure that you don’t need me to go any further to illustrate that you have probably never, or would never hear anyone from any of these professions utter those singular statements about their industry.
So Why Do We Do It As Marketers and Technologists?
‘It’s the year of the Video’ - (if someone gave me a £1 for every time I have heard that …)
‘It’s the year of Engagement!’ - (Say what? for as long as I have been able to go ga ga, I’ve been engaging with people and I’m pretty sure you and your clients have been too, so why, is 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and more than likely 2020 going to be the year of engagement?
‘It’s the year of Virtual Reality’ - (Stop a second while I go and grab my headset and join the masses on the underground all wearing headsets!)
‘It’s the year of Community!’ - (Possibly my least favourite one ever, because it is being used and I mean USED, everywhere)
Ok, what I am not doing here is trying to attack marketers. Quite the opposite in fact, I know many AMAZING marketers :-) … However, following numerous conversations with clients, brands and other marketers who are either confused by such sweeping statements (clients and brands) or perplexed at the simplicity for what is actually an incredibly skilled and creative and strategic profession (marketers) . I think it’s about time that everyone took responsibility for what they are doing by reducing our industry to singular statements and predictions.
Let’s go back to those ‘prediction statements’
‘It’s the year of Linkedin’ - funnily enough said the LinkedIn Expert.
‘It’s the year of Video’ - funnily enough said the vlogger who is doing exceptionally well from a YouTube Channel
You will very often find these statements come from someone who is particularly excellent at the statement/prediction thing they are referring to.
Now it’s not that I disagree that this year will be the year where video WILL be successful for some brands and Linkedin may propel an undiscovered brand to potential Apple status, however, we need to stop glorifying singular statements and predictions as the answer to everyone’s prayers!
Let me explain:
1.) It gives clients and brands a very simplistic view that every answer to their business need can be found in the trend they are highlighting and quite frankly, shame on you Mr/Mrs marketer if you think this is good solid advice to someone who is putting their business literally in your hands.
2.) It can be self-serving and ego based.
For example; ‘It’s the year of growing a community’
If you have built a great community, that is fantastic! but, to give this advice as the sole element that a brand needs to build their business is wrong. Giving this advice without detail, really only highlights that YOU were good at building YOUR community. If you are Mr/Mrs Community or Mr/Mrs Engagement, great! Fly the flag, but for goodness sake give some practical content around building a community. These cliché statements like ‘This is the year of the community, you have to care more than ever about them and engage with them’, is lame, simplistic advice. It lacks intelligence and it gives a client absolutely no direction as to HOW to do this themselves. By simply giving the advice ‘build a community’ you reduce strategy to a singular element. Let’s hope that all the eggs that are in the one basket of advice you are giving are eggs that hatch, otherwise we are going to continue to see the downfall and failure of many businesses who are already confused by the multiple ways they can market.
Now you may think that a way to reduce overwhelm and increase understanding is to make advice simple (THAT DOES NOT MEAN REDUCING IT TO A SIMPLE SINGLE ELEMENT). It means communicating, for as long as it takes to help increase understanding. It means taking time, care and effort to sit and LISTEN and then communicating ideas together to begin to create a personalised (YES PERSONALISED) strategy for the particular client/ brand you are working with.
Marketers need to stop being lazy by offering buzzword solutions that serve no-one but themselves initially. This could eventually lead to the downfall of an industry that is surrounded by much speculation anyway. It is actually very damaging to our industry and it makes it appear like anyone can do it well with little thought and simplistic mentality.
Doing marketing well requires listening, understanding, thinking, talking, strategising, implementing, testing, trialling, repeating and so on multiple times and it will be different for every brand.
So back to that lawyer (and the courtroom they walk into …)
You will never see a lawyer working on a case that they want to win by giving simplistic, one-directional and basic advice.
They spend hour upon hour researching every case for what it is. They look at all the evidence and every detail in front of them. They look at the individual, the circumstance, and past precedents. They research, continuously, to present something that is intelligent, credible, detailed, supported with examples and most likely to help their clients succeed!
Why do lawyers command the prices they do for the services they provide?
It is because every case is treated with time, care, skill and attention and they are worth every single penny that you pay them.
Why is marketing an industry that is contested, misunderstood, and understandably an industry where many do not know the price to pay for a service or a strategy?
This is because the very people who say ‘you should be clear in your messaging’ actually send out the least clear message of all. Marketers are sending out a message that one-directional strategies will be the thing that will answer the dreams of brands (for this year at least anyway, until the next predictions come around).
In fact, it is a whole mixture of many elements that will be different every time for every brand/client (case) that marketers work with.
For brands/clients you should be expecting far more from the marketers you work with.
Marketers (Good Marketers), are skilled professionals, just like lawyers. So If you are one, Level Up!
Stop throwing out singular predictions/statements without relating it to something that requires much more skill and analysis!
If you are a brand, ASK QUESTIONS, A tonne of them. If you are not working with someone who is listening and exploring the potential with you (which should be limitless) and they are reducing your brand’s success to their belief in the current ‘in thing’, maybe it’s time to change direction and think about who you are working with!
So what is 2019 the year of?
Well, It could be the year of levelling up and actually highlighting the skill and expertise that we have as marketers by taking ownership of better communication, more active listening and understanding and solutions that are personal, creative and far more intelligent than Marketers are actually currently portraying.
It could be the year of ignoring really simple advice that lacks back-up and the year of us as marketers taking accountability for the things that we suggest.
And maybe, just maybe it will be the year that we put out intelligent advice so that marketing will be recognised as the skilled, thoughtful and intelligent profession that it is where we see more and more examples of it being done meaningfully and exceptionally well.