I love watching Top Gear on TV. A recent episode showed Richard Hamond attempting to drive an Formula 1 racecar. Although Hammond is certainly no ‘Stig,’ one has to admit that he’s driven some very fast cars over the years and has to be classified as a very competent amateur, putting aside perhaps from that minor crash at 200mph last year. Checkout the Youtube clip below of his F1 attempts.
Most Seasoned Marketers are Amateurs too
I think when it comes to marketing, especially digital, we’re all in a similar situation to Hammond. Yes, most of us can drive a car. We’ve had lessons and years of experience. We think we know what we’re doing, but in reality when compared with the world’s best we’re all quite hopeless, as Richard Hammond discovered.
Yes, we can drive, but certainly not at speed. We lack the skills the best in the trade have. We can do bits of course, some good, some badly, but overall we all suck at it and the gap between the good and bad is huge. It’s not so much that clients aren’t getting some value from their marketers. It’s just that we’re far below the ideal of what’s possible today. Client expectations, fortunately, are low.
But like most things, it’s not the tools, but how we use them that’s going horribly wrong here. The technology is way ahead of what the market can understand or utilise. It’s not like learning Maths at school either. More like Latin. There can be many ways to get the right result or convey the right message. Marketing and advertising is a very complex artform and is poorly taught in the schools and universities too. They’re often teaching theoretical stuff that’s 5-10 years out of date.
Perseverance and willingness to learn is the key
We should realise, like Hammond, it’s only when we find our skillsets are inadequate and how far behind the ideal we really are. How far behind the best in the world who get 10x the returns for their clients. The differences between ‘the best’ and ‘the average’ effort is immense. From my direct marketing days I’ve seen two so-called ‘experts’ send out mailing campaigns to the same subscriber list, for the same product promotion. One got a zero response, the other over 250 a month later. Why is this?
It just means that often even the local ‘experts’ in their field can be found wanting and not know all the answers. it usually stems from the inability to learn ‘new stuff’. To experiment and learn from mistakes. This is a human condition and is not limited to consumer mortals, but well paid professionals too!
My top pick of ‘Experts’
Education is the key, but do not assume the established local ‘experts’ know it all. NZ is way behind in terms of modern marketing strategies and implementation. You need to look offshore. Finding those with an understanding of direct marketing helps.
Certainly there are those out there who really do know what they’re talking about. We’ve read hundreds of good marketing books over the years, including most of the works of Seth Godin. Waiting for your Cat to Bark by Brian Eisenberg is an essential read too and pushing the need for using personas, testing and analysis. (His techniques were used by that direct marketer with the 250 response, mentioned earlier). Another, less-known book is ‘changing the channel’ by entrepreneur MaryEllen Tribby. She also takes on a global view of marketing and shows you how the different marketing media, when understood and blended together, can work really, really well. Here’s where to buy the book.