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The Era of Planless Marketing

March 17th, 2013

circus_swingThese days, I think that every company— small or large— could be forgiven for operating without a plan. After all, we live in an age of fickle customers, fluctuating needs and fleeting, sometimes frivolous channels. Our annual marketing strategies swirl like fall leaves in a whirlwind of uncertainty, half-baked initiatives, and changing goals.

We live in a boundariless world, it sometimes seems, with few definitions. There’s certainly an immediacy to it all, but few ways to truly measure or manage how we’re performing in real time. And let’s face it, speed + confusion does not a wise result make.

What’s the primary culprit, per se? Well, as usual, it’s those tricksters in Silicon Valley (and increasingly, their VC counterparts and tech entrepreneurs residing in New York’s Silicon Alley). Technology and the tools being developed are moving at breakneck speed and with it, there is an unprecedented challenge for marketers to even develop a relevant plan, much less try to sustain one.

In response to those game-changing factors, consumers are awash in new opportunities and can experience fascinating possibilities as managers of their own destiny. They can learn about products through social media, read and share reviews across a baffling, mind-boggling network, enter stores to examine the products more closely and then retreat to their mobile devices or tablets to source a dozen cheaper alternatives for actually buying an item.

As a reaction, marketers — understandably — are in a confusing labyrinth fraught with all kinds of dilemmas. Marketing executives could be excused for throwing their arms up in frustration. It must feel like sitting in a forced game of Russian Roulette with a game show clock in their face: They must baseline the current performance, measure results, and demonstrate ROI. And it’s no longer around annual, or even quarterly results.

A few years ago, I was in counseling after divorce and my therapist made an interesting assessment: I, Dwayne, needed a plan.

It was true. There wasn’t even a semblance of planning. In the rudderless, maddening chaos of managing career, children, my own life, along with a devastating divorce, I had become reactionary. I managed by not planning or managing; I simply responded by firing from the hip. There was just one problem: Not only was my gun not leaving its holster — it was barely firing in even a remote direction of intelligence or desired achievement. Around that time, a friend shared a new term: Tabula rasa. In Latin, it means a “blank slate.” It was time to clear the clutter from the table, from my mind, and begin fresh with a new plan.

I predicted a few years ago that Facebook would quickly see its day and wane like unwatered daisies in blistering heat. All recent studies (and all ample research is readily available to us as consumers now) have shown that usability of the website is beginning a decline across demographics. It’s inevitable. In the same way that I saw traditional print media fracturing and fragmenting into a million micro published properties, so will mass communities be divided and carved up online.  And yet, we see large global companies advertising on television, offering premiums if you’ll simply “like our Facebook page.” Why? The customer data is never actually acquired unless you’re willing to pay Facebook, and “likes” mean nothing unless they translate to sales.

We’re all living and working in a dizzying array of the “impossible multichannel universe,” a vast space of social communities that is expanding continually. It serves no benefit to anyone to simply populate those channels with content and acquire new fans or friends without a cohesive, coherent strategy.

Before we work ourselves into a whirling dervish, it may make sense to step off the ride. Because the notion of ROI starts with a smart goal. . . and a clear road map for getting there.





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This entry was posted on Sunday, March 17th, 2013 at 2:04 pm and is filed under Advertising, Business, Customer Experience, Marketing, Media, Social Media. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Founder & President,
IridiumGroup Inc.

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