Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Are You Buzzword-Compliant?

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Or read below...

Over dinner the other night I had an epiphany. Since life is a series of little epiphanies that you string together to create logical associations and bring a sense of calm and order to a world that is otherwise thriving on chaos, I felt the urgent need to share with you this epiphany.

This came while deep in conversation over dinner with a few people from our industry. The company included Joe Dumont of Questus, who confirmed that he is 100% “buzzword-compliant”! He said it completely as a joke and to make light of a recent situation — but in the context of the joke, I saw an element of truth that lines our industry and continues to make it difficult for us to scale our business. The issue is that we are still trying to redefine what we do in terms that no one other than those people raised and trained in our industry will possibly understand. We refuse to accept the fundamentals of what’s been done before as effective, and we constantly look for ways to prove that we’re different, possibly superior, and definitely more complex.

I like the fundamentals. I like to make things simple. One of my business partners has the unmistakable skill to digest down the most complex challenges facing clients and spit out the simple truths and facts of their situations, thereby allowing us to build an effective strategy for them. This is a skill I wish I could replicate and give to every person in any form of marketing services, whether they are agencies or sales groups or any other type of company. We make things too complex in order to justify our own existence, as if a simple problem would not be an adequate challenge.

I disagree with that idea immediately. The most effective strategies I’ve seen are the simplest. Think of Starbucks in its heyday of trying to provide the ‘”third place” for people (vs. home and work). Think back to the simple idea of Nike and “just do it” and showing athletes as our role models. Effectiveness comes from being able to understand a complex issue and provide a simple solution. A simple solution can be messaged in many ways, conveying the emotional and practical components of a solution, influencing a customer. You hear about the “Big Idea” all the time, but the “Big Idea” is really just a simple solution to a complex problem.

The fundamentals of Marketing 101 get overlooked in our industry. So my epiphany is that while we certainly need to spend time to be “buzzword-compliant,” I would also ask that you spend time training your teams to find that nugget of truth that can make a complex problem a simple one. Tap into the creativity of your teams and try to find the simple solutions and apply the fundamentals of marketing that tend to get overlooked. If that happens, then I guarantee that your business will scale and get more efficient over the coming year or two.

Of course there are some buzzwords that we all have to learn and use. They aren’t going away because some guy who writes a weekly column says they should. Besides, what would I do without the ability to hypothesize about the tools of engagement that can monetize my platform for customer synchronization, right? I mean, without that, how could I possibly automate the optimization of my behavioral targeting methodology or expand the customization engine with which it meets my ROI?

Or something like that.

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