Welcome to the Tuesday 2¢ . It’s Tuesday, the weekend is a distant memory and it’s time to let off some steam and give our 2 cents on a hot industry topic. This week Ian Truscott urges us to jump off the marketing hamster wheel, take a deep breath and look at the 'why' behind what we do.
Marketers are faced with a seemingly growing nest of tweeting baby birds, each with beaks open and squawking for a little piece of the worm that is marketing time and resources. The marketer’s life becomes a cycle of looking for the next worm and feeding it to the hungry brood. In their focus on worms, once creative marketers stop looking up and instead become execution marketers - time for strategy and creativity is gone.
In previous articles, I have called this the “hamster wheel of marketing” and unfortunately it’s an occupational hazard. Well, I say occupational ‘hazard’, but for some it is their only occupation; it is entirely what is expected. As Mark Ritson recently says in this article in Marketing Week :
We marketers are a frenetic bunch. We confuse business with success, and hours worked with impact.
When I say "tweeting baby birds”, I don’t necessarily mean the audience of internal stakeholders, sales people, and executives (etc.) who we serve and could (in some organizations) describe as driving this cycle, but also the chaos of tools, tactics, channels, and strategies which also demand our attention.
I’m currently reading “Killing Marketing: How Innovative Businesses Are Turning Marketing Cost Into Profit” by Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose. I’m a fan of Mr Rose, a chap who put me on the path to content marketing righteousness, but for the purposes of this article I’d like to quote Mr Pulizzi. In a chapter where he encourages single channel focus and simplicity in the face of increasing complexity, he states:
And yet marketers tend to over complicate the idea of content marketing. There is still a belief that we need to be everywhere our customers are on the web. That we need to be on all social platforms (like it or not). That we need to be distributing our stories 11 different ways every day.
And to return to my quotes from the wise, Ritson agrees with this sentiment in his article:
…we spend our days obsessing with tactical diaspora without first working out exactly what we are trying to achieve. The now obligatory new-year marketing predictions were brimming with the need to be more agile, to use artificial intelligence (AI) and big data to employ whatever techno-gimmickery is flavor of the week.
So, what is the antidote to all this busy work?
It’s simple: ask why? (and maybe who cares? )
Asking ‘why’ is the key to jumping off the hamster wheel. Riston suggests taking a breath, but while you are breathing, take a look at all this activity and ask why are we doing this, why do we publish on this channel, why is agile marketing important , why do we send this email, why is this product data sheet important, why do we need to be on pinterest, why is artificial intelligence important to our company or why do I need to pay attention to the latest fad of blah blah blah marketing.
Maybe I should even ask myself “Why am I writing an article about ‘why’?”.
The answer to the ‘why’ is sometimes in the data, the engagement metrics which tell you that someone cares.
The answer to the ‘why’ could be in your empathy for your intended audience: why would they care about this activity?
The answer to the ‘why’ will be in your goals, your strategy, something that has been forgotten while you’ve been peddling away on the hamster wheel or scratching for worms.
So, asking ‘Why’ is Wise Marketing.