So often, people are trying to define social media marketing. I was thinking about it the other day and trying to think of the simplest definition I could come up with when I thought back to this commercial when I was a kid. If you are old enough, you will probably remember it. Watch it and let me know if it defines what social media marketing is all about…
Last week, we held our third annual Inbound Marketing Summit (previously named New Marketing Summit) – www.inboundmarketingsummit.com. It was a great lineup of speakers, panels, presenters, and presentations. But even more interesting to me were the “conversations in the hall”. To me, that is the sign of a good event, whether it is a conference, trade show, meetup, or any other form of event. But in this post I wanted to focus on the topic that seemed to resonate more than anything – data.
Data was the topic of conversation when talking about listening on the web (to hear what people are saying about your company or product), email marketing, website marketing, SEO, Content Marketing, and Content Management. And data is at core of it all. What is interesting to me is that data is also the pain-point for almost everyone. No company I talked with was satisfied with their customer lists, prospect lists, content management capabilities, or overall systems. Yet – there is no solution in the eyes of most people. It reminds me of something my boss told in in 1992 when we were re-launching Cambridge Technology Partners – “we could make a whole business on just rebuilding customer service systems”. And here we are – 17 years later – and if anything – the challenge is greater.
So – what do you do??? My recommendations are the following -
- Start small – almost everyone tries to solve this problem with a holistic solution and in doing so gets lost in the process and either a) develops a solution that does not solve the real problems or b) develops a solution that is too cumbersome to implement or c) gets list in design and never gets started. Start with a small piece, conquer that first, and move on. Build from the inside out and build to solve the business problems that are most glaring, and work out from there.
- Integrate a solution that works for sales, finance, and marketing – but be the glue not the foundation. Too often, people are trying to re-create the base and therefore have to take into account everything that is needed for all parts of the business that touch the customer. This approach will undoubtedly result in failure. Instead, approach it looking at the value and being the glue – leaving the legacy and department specific solutions in place
- Focus on Search – the key with any solution that takes on data is building it for search. Too often the search is the final part built and is based on the data structure and information. Take the opposite approach – identify the search goals and plans, build to that, and then build the base to support it.
- Know where you are going. I mentioned listening at the beginning. We talk to a lot of companies about listening. But what value is listening without action? Sure – you will be informed. But build out a plan for how to communicate and what data you need for that – then focus on listening.
- Final point – it is a process conversation, not an IT conversation. Most organizations view the data issue as one about IT – systems, databases, structure, etc. In the old days (not that old…) the technology was such that this thinking was the only thinking possible. In today’s world, with the advances in technology, the technology is actually the simple part and the real issue is the process for managing, communicating, and using the data.
Is it possible to succeed?
That depends on how you define success. If you define it as reaching the end – then NO. Why? Because there is no end. If you define it as winning on points and solving the issues at hand – then YES. Definitely.
Recently I wrote a blog post about the position that Barry Diller was taking with regards to the idea that people would pay for online content and a statement he made at a conference about that. In looking at the new @katiecouric page to see how they were approaching the idea of online video content. What I find so amazing is that, if I am not mistaken, I am watching this interview by a “journalist” via a free online video site just launched by that journalist. Is there something odd in saying that people should pay for quality content inside of a medium that, from all I can tell, is just pushing on the idea of free online content with advertising as its only revenue stream? Am I mistaken? Watch below and let me know…