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Perspectives
The most frustrating thing about marketing.

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GREGG
BLANCHARD
       

Dropping in for a somewhat rare Friday post to quickly discuss something I’ve been struggling with as a marketer and just put this out there. Maybe it’s just me, maybe it’s a thing, but it’s nothing.

The idea is best described by a river or stream. The metaphor isn’t perfect, but it does the trick.

via GIPHY

Think about that GIF above. The water is not moving fast, it’s not rushing and frothing and churning, but it is moving.

You hardly notice its movement, but before long the water that is in front of you right now will be miles downstream. Out of sight and out of mind.

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
I want you to think about every great marketing idea or strategy or whatever that you’ve used in your marketing career as a leaf floating down that stream.

When you first put it into the stream, it’s awesome, it’s exciting, it solves your problems. But before long, three things happen.

#1) There are Increasingly More Leaves
When I first started marketing stuff 12-ish years ago, Facebook was not a thing. Twitter was not a thing. Blogging and podcasting were sorta things, but the simple fact is this: there were very few leaves in my stream. Today, with the sheer volume of information, leaves get swept out of sight much faster than they used to.

#2) You Don’t Want to Repeat
Maybe you pull that leaf back up stream a time or two to keep it in view, but with any clever thing you figure out there’s a temptation to not lean on it too much. To not hit that same key on the piano too many times in a row. So you let it drift downstream and look for another idea or tactic or trick to try.

#3) You Forget
But human brains are finite, so as all this new information comes in, it isn’t long before you forget. Before that thing that once was your go-to strategy, the perfect solution to so many marketing problems, fades from your memory and is forgotten.

The Real Problem
Let me illustrate with a photo the biggest frustration for me in all this. Curious about the idea of putting some of my best posts into the form of books, I tossed every post from the “What I’d Do” category into a Lulu template, printed a cheap draft for $5, and excitedly opened the package to see how my words work look in print.

As I thumbed through the pages and reread posts I hadn’t seen for as many as 7-8 years, this is the thought process I went through:

“Oh man, I’d forgotten about this one…

Wow…this is a really good idea…

Sheesh, so is this one…maybe not quite as good as the first, but bad…

Huh, these at the end just don’t seem to be quite as useful…”

Since then I’ve been digging through my own personal marketing archives. As I have, I’ve found things like:

  • Videos that I wrote, shot, and edited 10 years agon that tell really thoughtful, effective stories about a product.
  • Website copy that is really insanely well would be something I’d honestly aspire to if I saw them today.
  • Email campaigns that are based on principles that worked like magic that I simply haven’t thought of using for a decade.
  • Crazy creative ways I’d gotten my name and products into hard-to-get points of visibility

I’d always thought that with experience would come more confidence, better ideas, and a keener instinct for what works and what doesn’t.

Yet, there I was, looking at my former self that seemed to be doing much better marketing than I am today.

True…but Not
In some ways, I’m sure that’s proven to be true. But in others, I feel like I’m staring at a stream of ideas floating by and the only ones I can recall at the moment are the ones I see. The ones that are recent rather than the ones that are best.

I’m in a unique situation, I realize that. But I feel like my marketing creativity is drowning in a river of new information when the real solution to most of my marketing challenges is simply to find a way to remember what’s already worked in the past. To hold onto the good stuff and tie it to the shore so it always stays in view as the rest of the marketing noise floats endlessly past.

Again, I may be alone in this. But, then again, maybe not. I’d love to hear your thoughts.



  • sthrendyle

    A few years ago, I got a gig with a major newspaper here in Canada. I had been their print winter sports/ski columnist for several years, but now they were making the ‘pivot to digital’. Before, I could create this concise, informative and entertaining mini-essays or articles. Now, they wanted me to churn out TWO short stories per day (just a photo and a glorified caption, that should be easy!). I knew, of course, that it wouldn’t be and bad things came from it. 1) Sure, I learned how to write quickly, but I also hated half the stories–rewritten press releases, in most cases. And it affected my other writing as well. My wordsmithing turned to shit. 2) I had to line up photos from the resorts or the mfgr. Guess who ended up getting the most ink – those who had the best online libraries who could get me the goods within an hour of e-mailing them. Hardly the fairest way to do business. 3) The rush to publish meant that I couldn’t investigate bigger, issues driven stories. 4) The pay was shit, and I ended up truly resenting it. In fact, I was embarrassed to tell (uh, my wife) people about it. 5) NO ONE read the stories… at all. The web page was NEVER promoted in the newspaper. Only two resorts bought into the online ad platform, which I’m sure they paid pennies for. The only ‘likes’ I got were from industry PR peeps who had the story come up in their Google News feeds, quite likely 6) A local photographer got supremely pissed (for good reason) when we dropped one of his images in without credit OR payment. But hey, when you have 2 stories per day to file 7) The gig ended as badly as it possibly could. Worse, in fact. But you’ll have to reach out to me on Twitter @threndyleski to find out that sordid tale. Moral of story: “good writing takes time.” Also, you’re never as fired up as you are when you’re young, hungry, and the horizon is endless. Reality bites, and you have to somehow move on.

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