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Stop Making Excuses
Excuses. I constantly hear excuses.
Marketing people have excuses for why they can’t create viral digital content. CEOs, company presidents, and other executives have excuses for why their particular product, service, or organization doesn’t have the potential to spread online. Authors and musicians offer excuses for why their books or music aren’t selling.
Often, the excuse comes to me like this: “But David, we’re a _______________. We can’t do that.”
You can fill in the blank with your organization’s excuse. I’ve already heard most of them: big company, small company, public company, venture-funded company, nonprofit, church, accountant, blood donation center, indie rock band, famous university, blah, blah, blah.
Sorry, but they’re all just excuses.
If you’re obsessed with ROI measurements that worked in an offline world, then you’re just making an excuse. If you worry about losing control of your message, then you’re making an excuse.
Another excuse I hear a lot these days comes from people pointing to polls and research reports that ask questions such as “Do you read blogs?” or “Do you use social media?” or “Do you go to video-sharing sites?” Often the data show rather small use compared to those who, say, use search engines or email.
This sort of data is misleading and dangerous to an organization’s overall marketing and PR efforts, dangerous enough that I’ve decided to close with this point.
Because these data are used by resistant executives to justify sticking exclusively to the methods that worked decades ago, like image advertising, direct mail, and the yellow pages.
I frequently hear CEOs, CFOs, and VPs of marketing say things like: “See, social media, blogs, and YouTube are not important, so we won’t do them here. They’re a waste of time.” Others say: “I don’t read blogs, so how important are they?”
These excuses miss 2 tremendously important points.
First, practically everyone uses Google and other search engines regularly, and the searches frequently return blog posts, YouTube videos, or other social media content high in the results.
So even though people may report “no” when asked if they use social media like blogs and video-sharing sites, nearly everyone has found this content via search.
Similarly, when people who are not regular users of social media ask their (non-social-media) networks for advice, they often do it via email.
Frequently the answers that come back include URLs to company and product pages. And those links from friends, colleagues, or family members often include blog posts and other social media content.
A mother may ask her friends a question like: “What’s the best baby stroller to buy?” The answer may include a link to a blog post or a site with an embedded video. Again, the person asking for advice probably didn’t even know she’d been sent to a blog or video-sharing site.
Many people who reach information via search don’t know what sort of “media” they’re enjoying! Don’t let your bosses diminish the hidden value of social media as search engine fodder and as valuable sources of information that people share with their networks.
A World Wide Rave—having others tell and spread your story for you—is one of the most exciting and powerful ways to reach your audiences. It’s not easy to harness that power, but any company with thoughtful ideas to share—and clever ways to create interest in them— can, after some careful preparation, become famous and find success on the Web.
The biggest requirement is that you change your behavior, so let me remind you of the most important strategies for successful marketing in a world of social media:
- Stop obsessing over the old measurements of sales leads and marketing ROI.
- Make your valuable online content free and registration-less.
- Give away lots of good information (videos, photos, data, graphs, audio, blogs, e-books, and the like) to enthusiastic or curious people interested in your products and services.
- Encourage an organizational culture of sharing
While this all seems simple enough, it’s practiced surprisingly rarely. But those who adopt these ideas usually win big.
Most importantly, you can only be successful if you lose control. Your challenge is to let go of your excuses and corporate inhibitions. Go out and create something interesting that people will be eager to share.