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.

Removing a Screw with a Hammer

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Image courtesy of thanunkorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“I have been giving some thought to our discussion of tools the other day Watson,” said The Effective Detective.

“Oh? What other insights have you found?” I replied, hoping he would realize I was being serious.

If The Detective had felt there was sarcasm in my tone, he didn’t show it, but rather launched into his explanation, “I believe the problem goes beyond merely using an overly complicated tool, and extends far beyond the use of software, or at least what we think of as software.

“The problem is recognizing the correct tool to perform a job.  So often there is no thought given to the process, just a decision to use a tool, often because of popular opinion, “peer” pressure to some degree, and of course convenience and cost,” The Detective paused, gathering his thoughts.

“Cost, sir? Are you going to be attacking open source, and freeware now?” I asked, truly concerned at the alarming direction I felt the discussion was going.

“No Watson, I am talking more about the blind faith in Social Media and other purported sources of free traffic and leads.”

“Oh sir, not another Facebook rant! Please?” I begged, with true urgency in my voice.

The Detective cast a baleful eye, but responded. “Watson, you miss the point. A tool by itself is neither good nor bad. I am sure if you queried a multitude of consumer companies, they have had enormous success with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and any number of other sites like them.

“My complaint is not with the tool but how people are being told to use the tool, no matter what the application. ‘Want to build a big list? Start a Facebook page and start inviting people to come and like it!’ ‘Need to get everyone to recognize you are an expert? Blog, or tweet, or both’. These type of suggestions are made without any regard for the target audience, whether the people who are attracted are buyers, the time frame the business person is dealing with to develop business, nothing!” The Detective stopped, obviously agitated. While he was  taking a deep relaxing breath, I jumped in.

“But sir, aren’t there any number of fairly successful people who are participating in Social Media and related vehicles?” I quickly got out.

“Thank you Watson, the evidence you just offered proves my point. Who are some of these successful people and what are they offering?” The Detective was smiling now, and I felt like I had just stepped into a bear trap.

“Any number of Internet marketers offering… uh… consumer products, or advice to other Internet marketers,” I started, understanding starting to dawn. “Successful consultants offering coaching and other advice to, well, to other consultants and coaches.”

“Exactly Watson! They target the exact kind of people who peruse the Internet looking for those kind of things. Success with the tool requires your tribe to be looking for you in the environment of the tool – Facebook, Twitter, whatever, versus you finding them elsewhere and drawing them to the environment so you can continue the conversation.” The Detective finished calmly, knowing he had made his point.

“So how do you know what tool to use, sir?” I asked, my curiosity aroused.

“Another time, Watson. I prefer you cogitate on this concept for a bit.”

“As you wish, sir.”