AtoZ Inc knows it needs to be doing more online marketing. The marketing director hires an online marketing manager (a young one, not long out of college because online marketing is, like, young, you know, it’s a young thing. Look at Zuckerberg and those young guys from Snapchat). The director tells the manager the URLs of five companies in the same business as AtoZ Inc and says, “These guys are doing really well. They’ve been leaving us behind. Give us a website and a blog just like the ones they have. Okay?”
The marketing director goes off to direct some marketing, the way marketing directors do, and a few days later comes back to the online marketing manager’s cubicle. “Show me where you’re up to.” So the online marketing manager does, and the marketing director feels as though he’s going to blow a gasket. “What’s this? This is nothing like those other companies do. Did you understand what I told you to do?”
“Sure I understood.” Like the director thinks she’s stupid or something?
“You mean you ignored me? Why?”
“Because I thought you were wrong.”
It’s not just the gasket that’s in danger now; the transmission is shaking, there’s a terrible noise coming from the wheels and the muffler has fallen off. Twenty years the director has been in marketing, and this slip of a girl is telling him he’s wrong! She sees he’s in danger of a coronary and realizes she’d better calm things down a bit. “Look,” she says. “As far as the web is concerned, we are the new guys on the block. If we offer people the same as they already get from the other five, why should they switch from them to us? What incentive do they have?”
He’s never been talked to like this since they made him a director. This girl – this child will be lucky still to have a job in an hour’s time. Nevertheless… He sits down. “Take me through it.”
She does. Page by page. And as she goes, she says, “I’ve analyzed every page and every post on every one of those five blogs. Not just Copyscape; I didn’t just want to be sure that we weren’t using the same words. We’re not using the same ideas, either. We’re not saying the same things.”
“But surely… They are doing so well… Why don’t we want to say the same things?”
“Because we missed the boat. They got in first. If you’re saying the same things as everyone else, why are you bothering? What’s the point?”
He stops scrolling and reads carefully. Suddenly he feels more nervous than angry. “Your style. You wouldn’t call it bland, would you?”
“What would you call it?”
“I prefer contrarian. Give people something to think about they haven’t thought about before. And at the same time, give them a reason to come back and see us again.”
The site goes live because it’s too late to do anything about it and the marketing director knows who to blame if it all goes wrong. Six weeks later, the CEO stops him in the corridor. “Jim! I wanted to congratulate you! Fantastic figures! And I understand we’re up for some kind of blogger’s award?”
The marketing director adopts that blend of modesty and confidence that get you appointed to the board in the first place. “It was nothing special. Everybody else in the business was going one way, so I decided we should go the other.”
I don’t know how many other companies in your business are blogging, but I know it’s a lot and I know the blogs are all much the same, and I know there’s no point to that. Not any more. Blogging is mature now and singing the same song as everyone else won’t get you an audience. There are two ways to improve any kind of business
- Doing things better; and
- Doing better things.
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