Friday, April 19, 2013

Avoiding the Cliff

Disclaimer: As you remember, I had to be reminded that I'm pretty quick because normally I assume I'm the dumbest person in the room. Yep, I tend to see, analyze and solve problems before most people figure out there actually is a problem to begin with; and as I was being reminded about my swiftness on the mental playing field, I was also told that when I look at people and go, "Well DUH!" it puts them off. 

I have no defense, I don't mean to make anyone feel dumb, but me going "duh!" is a knee-jerk reaction. (Reminder: I play in the Myst Universe a.k.a. "The World's Coolest MENSA Convention," so I really am usually the dumbest person in the room. My 131 isn't piddle compared with some of those folks.)

Earlier, I opened up one of my regular trade pubs I get via e-mail, a Smartbrief. Most of the time I breeze through them, picking up a useful insight or two along the way.

Today though, I stumbled upon an article entitled "Mobile Mind Shift, Smarter Connectivity Will Change Digital Marketing."

After reading it, I just facepalmed.

Really? Seriously? They actually posted that article in good conscience? You gotta be kidding me.

So I fired off a tweet with a link to the article.

I couldn't help it! It's so no-brainer.
Portability, if you're not on all four screens, you're missing opportunities.

Well, just slap me in the mouth and call me "dumbfounded" because that tweet got favorited four times a short 20 minutes later.

Good gods, really? To me, that's so blatantly obvious it hurts. That me pointing out something so blatantly obvious that every single CMO worth their salt should have KNOWN - and been executing two years ago - gets favorited by not only one, but FOUR people with 11,000+ followers each?

Excuse my vernacular, but you've gotta be shitting me. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that four people get it, but think for a moment about all those ridiculously high-paid CMO's who don't.

I don't mean to be prideful, but someone that unaware making that much money just makes me cringe. (Yeah, I know...'Welcome to Corporate America', and people actually wonder why I usually don't play well with others.)

I don't know about you, but if I was a CEO that had a CMO that didn't know two years ago that the cross-platform portability of their messaging was mandatory - for viability and survival of their brand(s) - I would give them a kick to the curb so fast it would make their heads swim.

But let's go bigger than that: if I was on the Board of Directors of a company who's CEO didn't catch that behind-the-curve CMO, both of them would have received the 'prostitute boot' and been on the sidewalk in one quick hurry.

I personally think people that far behind the curve or worse - not pushing the edge and able to see this kind of stuff a mile off before anyone else does - proves the point of one of my favorite quotes:
"That's suit thinking. Something happens to a man when he puts on a necktie.
Cuts off all the oxygen to his brain."
Thank you Michael J. Fox! Without Alex P. Keaton's popularity, the world would have never seen John Pankow deliver that fantastic line in 1987's The Secret of My Succe$s.

I was 15 when that movie came out. Do the math. I heard that line for the first time 26 years ago; and to this day, every single time I see a professional Darwin Award-winning move, I repeat it out loud.

I gotta be crazy, because I should get big money for it, but to save myself (and the four other people that get it) some heartache, I'm going to cut some neckties off and get oxygen flowing back to some brains. It's also known as handing out some million-dollar insight for free.

#1 - Get with the times.

Look out of your Maybach window. Sorry to say, the world is not all about you and your kid's private school interview.

See all the people walking into things because they are face-down in their mobile devices? Yeah, them. They are your audience and there are only about a bajillion ways to get to them besides a traditional media buy, a fancy website and a Facebook ad.

If you haven't noticed, while you've been propped up like a prince plugged into your overpriced iWhatever, according to Neilsen, 53% of the mobile market in the U.S. belongs to Android and the Google Play Store is doing a TON of business.

#2 - Facebook is NOT the only answer.

While you've been dining on overpriced meals at Le Cirque and being hand-fed grapes by your staff of Yes Men, Facebook's "Pinky & The Brain" campaign for world domination is not only being laughed at, it's getting one-upped constantly by a rising sea of new mobile apps like Mobli. These new apps are taking whole chunks of market share because smart consumers (read: first-adopters) are sick and tired of Facebook's constantly changing, (read: unreliable) terms of service. Can you say "The Instagram Gaffe Effect"?

Get off your overpaid fanny and get down in the dirt with us plebs and find out how we're communicating.

#3 - Vomit begets vomit.

Yeah, you know I'm right. One whiff of stomach acid and everybody's stomach is doing the churn while the weak stomached are already head down in the porcelain throne following suit.

Vomiting your message on any type of SocMed (that's a Sheri-ism for Social Media to you new folks) begets more vomit because the bigger the brand doing it tells the little uneducated ones it's okay to do so.

Add to your vocabularies (and jobs on your payrolls) "Social Media Specialist." There are college campuses filled to the brim with young job-seekers who live their lives 24/7 in SocMed far beyond Facebook's scope or realm of imagination. Trust them. They know more than you do and can rival J. Edgar Hoover on the amount of information they can gather for you. Most importantly though is that they know how to use the media - they understand that any messaging you want spread MUST be done via CONVERSATION - not vomited all over everyone. Why? Because no one wants a reason to be face down in the porcelain throne having a conversation with the Tidy Bowl Man if they can avoid it.

#4 - Make friends with the books of Al Ries.

Lordy, if you're in my profession and don't know who he is, quit your job and join the Peace Corps. Seriously. Because if you haven't caught up on your reading and don't have in your professional arsenal The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR you are just making life hard on the rest of us.

Whole segments of consumers are not walking, THEY ARE RUNNING away from advertising. They don't want to hear your 30-second elevator pitch. They aren't interested in your bait-and-switch style micro-transaction based app. They are interested in honesty and guess what? A good majority of consumers wouldn't trust advertising if their lives depended on it. The honesty they are looking and desperately longing for is found in the conversations they are having with family and friends. (And the ad-free apps they can download for free.)

#5 - Don't mess with the ghost of Bill B.

Bill Bernbach said, "The only way from the past into the future is an idea."

He's also the man who is going to come back from the grave and slap you in the mouth for adding to the clutter; for not learning the art of "it's not how short you make it, but how you make it short." Hell, he'd ring my neck for this blog post being so long.

But I'll bet dollars to doughnuts he'd kick each and every one of our butts for not having the insight to know that SocMed has a million different faces and for not realizing that what we already know is in the past.

Cross-platform connectivity is not based on how many different SocMed platforms you vomit on, it's carefully choosing which one will work best for you, with you and encourage a message style that happily gives consumers what they want to see...

A world free of advertising that values each individual - acknowledging, accepting and applauding their individuality - on a deep, personal level.  (That means: Hello!  You've got to engage!  And it better be more than just more message spew. If you're not sincere, you're wasting an opportunity to empower a fresh, spanking-new brand ambassador.)

But that's okay, not everyone gets that kind of thinking.  You go right ahead though, roll your window back up if you wanna have a not-so-nice visit with the ghost of Bill B.

However if you must persist in following the clutter-spewing herd off the nearest cliff, do me a favor, wear a parachute. I hate the sound of professional death wails.

Don't be a lemming. Join the Lemming Liberation Front and help me free the world of senseless following...because Lordy, Facebook Home on a Facebook Phone? Really? Do you honestly believe that consumers will not eventually figure out they've signed up to be slaves in the world's largest data mine?

Oh wait, Apple did that already. Yeah, but at least Steve Jobs made iLemmings look cool and wrapped his whole homogeneous iSociety into something resembling Hotel California. Zuck can try to do the same, but Al Ries will only look at him and say:

"That position has already been taken."

Lemmings follow. Mavericks lead with brilliant ideas. You know which one you are and which one you want to be. What on Earth are you waiting for?

Here endeth the lesson.

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