Trying Too Hard To Be Cool

b9f58083-caaa-42d3-9cc2-63891438da79“Watson, are you familiar with the terms, ‘Cutting Edge’ and ‘Bleeding Edge’?” The Effective Detective asked, abruptly looking up from his computer.

“Sir? I believe the terms refer to technology: ‘Cutting Edge’ is fairly new but reliable tech, while ‘Bleeding Edge’ is extremely new and often buggy tech,” I answered, “but what does this have to do with marketing?”

“Bravo Watson, and an excellent question,” answered The Detective before continuing. “Surely you have noticed that technology now plays a large role in marketing? Email auto-responders, CRM databases, texting, software data collection, the list goes on forever. The problem comes when you, in an ill advised attempt to seem cool, or more technically advanced than your competition, latch on to some brand new technology which crashes and burns on you,” The Detective paused, obviously hoping I would interject. I obliged.

“Is there a particular technology you can give as an example, sir?” I ventured.

“Nice segue Watson! There are many, but one that I find particularly irksome is Google Hangouts. Mind you I have nothing against Google in general, and as you well know I am a huge believer in video, just not jerky video that cuts out on a regular basis making you and your guests look like you are in an old stop motion film. And then there is the sound! I have yet to meet anyone who enjoys listening to someone speak as if they were in a garbage can.

“Google Hangouts may not be bad for a video meeting between friends, and perhaps in a pinch you could do a business meeting utilizing it – so long as everyone on the call is patient and in a good mood, but for marketing, where the impression you make is so critical? Bah!” The Detective paused for a quick sip of water, and I took my chance to bring up a point I felt valid.

“But sir, the technology has improved! If noone uses it how will it ever improve?” I asked.

“An excellent point Watson, yes, the technology has improved, because there is a demand for such technology. As to noone using it, if there is a demand, then there will be people who are willing to try it, and experiment with it, and that is well and good. But to use bleeding edge tech for one of the most important aspects of your business? That is a recipe for disaster. There is an old saying Watson, pioneers get arrows in their backs and the settlers ride over them with their wagons. I would think long and hard about the potential downsides of a being a pioneer when it comes to technology in marketing. The upside – ‘Wow they are really cool!’ is rarely worth it,” The Detective finished.

“So the holographic projector with the seventeen speaker wireless sound system is out for our next presentation sir?”

“Quite so Watson. Quite so,” The Detective answered as he went back to work on his computer.

Weapons of Mass Distraction

ID-10075506

Image courtesy of thaikrit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Tools, Watson.”

“Tools, sir?” When The Effective Detective started a conversation with a declarative statement like that, it was always best to merely repeat the statement as a question and prepare for a lecture.

“Yes Watson, tools,” The Detective repeated, with a look that indicated he knew the purpose of my reply.

“I have been reflecting on the use of the vast collection of sales and marketing tools available to even the smallest marketer. Unfortunately, too many of our marketing brethren buy into the software mantra of ‘more features are better'”, The Detective said, with an almost wistful tone.

“What is the fault in that mantra, sir?” asking the question that I know would get the most, shall we say, enthusiastic response.

“The fault is obvious Watson!” The Detective responded vigorously, “Instead of choosing a piece of software based on what they are trying to accomplish, they go for the software with the most features that they can afford. The result would be comical if it wasn’t so sad.”

“And that result would be?” I asked, jumping into the breach.

“Why nothing of course, Watson! They end up doing nothing because they get utterly confused when assaulted by the process of using said features. At that time of course, we hear that this software or that doesn’t work, or that the process they are trying to automate is useless to their business, etcetera, etcetera. This is the cycle, almost without fail,” The Detective finished.

“Is there an alternative sir?” I asked, genuinely interested by now.

“Of course there is Watson, it isn’t as sexy and certainly not as easy as buying the most feature packed latest  and greatest version of software. It involves figuring out what exactly you are trying to do, rather than allowing yourself to be distracted by the shiny new thing. It involves thinking through things, to write the process flow down on a piece of paper so you can see exactly what is needed,rather than what a software manufacturer wants to sell you.

“In a nutshell Watson, if you can’t do it or at least flow it out by hand, then you certainly cannot automate it,” The Detective completed his thought.

“An interesting viewpoint from someone who has been involved in software for most of his life, sir,” I responded, egging him on for some reason. Luckily, The Detective’s reaction was more restrained that I expected.

“Not really Watson. I have spent a chunk of my life designing and writing software. I have seen projects succeed and I have seen many fail. I have watched innumerable users  do what I have just described. It is simply the obvious deduction of years of observations.”

“Ah. Well played sir,” I congratulated him.

“Quite so Watson.”