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Marketing Physics 101

on 14 Feb  Posted by Admin  Category: Internet Related  
by Gord Hotchkiss

Physics has never been my strong suit, but I think I have a good basic grasp of the con­cepts of veloc­ity and direc­tion. In my expe­ri­ence, the two con­cepts have spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance in the world of direct mar­ket­ing. All too often I see mar­keters that are too focused on one or the other. These imbal­ances lead to the fol­low­ing scenarios:

All Direc­tion, No Velocity
As a Cana­dian, I am painfully famil­iar with this par­tic­u­lar ten­dency. Up here, we call it a Royal Com­mis­sion. For those of you unfa­mil­iar with the vagaries of the Cana­dian polit­i­cal land­scape, here’s how a Royal Com­mis­sion works. It doesn’t. That’s the whole point. Royal Com­mis­sions are formed when you have an issue that you wished would sim­ply go away but the pub­lic won’t let it. So a Royal Com­mis­sion delib­er­ates over it for sev­eral months, issues a zil­lion page report that nobody ever reads, and by the time the report comes out, every­body has for­got­ten why they were so riled up in the first place.

This is sim­i­lar to company’s noodling for months, or even years, about their dig­i­tal strat­egy with­out really doing any­thing about it. They have brain­storm­ing ses­sions, run mod­els, define objec­tives and finally, decide on a direc­tion. Won­der­ful! But in the process, they’ve lost any veloc­ity they may have had in the first place. Every­one has become so exhausted talk­ing about dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing that they have no energy left to actu­ally do any­thing about it. Worse, they think that because it lives on a shelf some­where, the dig­i­tal strat­egy actu­ally exists.

All Veloc­ity, No Direction

With some company’s, the oppo­site is true. They try going in a hun­dred direc­tions at once, con­stantly chas­ing the lat­est bright shiny object. Exe­cu­tion isn’t the prob­lem. Stuff gets done. It’s just that no one seems to know which direc­tion the ship is head­ing. Another prob­lem is that even though veloc­ity exists, progress is impos­si­ble to mea­sure because no one has thought to decide what the right yard­stick is. You can only mea­sure how close you are to “there” when you know where “there” is.

Fail­ing any uni­fy­ing met­rics grounded in the real world, peo­ple tend to make up their own met­rics to jus­tify the furi­ous pace of exe­cu­tion. Some of my favorites: Twit­ter Retweets, Num­ber One SEO rank­ings and Face­book Likes.  As in “our lat­est cam­paign gen­er­ated 70,000 Face­book likes,” – a met­ric heard in more and more board­rooms across Amer­ica. Huh? So? How does this relate in any way to the real world where peo­ple dig out their wal­lets and actu­ally buy stuff? Exactly what dol­lar value do you put on a Like? Believe me, peo­ple are try­ing to answer that ques­tion, but I’ve yet to see an answer that doesn’t con­tain the faint whiff of smoke being blown up my butt. I sus­pect those pon­der­ing the ques­tion are them­selves vic­tims of the “all veloc­ity, no direc­tion” syndrome.

Bal­anced Physics

The goal is to fall some­where in between the two extremes. You need to know the gen­eral direc­tion you’re head­ing and what the des­ti­na­tion may look like. You will almost cer­tainly have to make course adjust­ments on the way, but you should always know which way North is.

And if you have veloc­ity, it’s much eas­ier to make those course adjust­ments. Try turn­ing a ship that’s stand­ing still.

Orig­i­nally pub­lished in Mediapost’s Search Insider February 9, 2012


Biography / Resume : Gord Hotchkiss is the founder and senior vice president of Enquiro, now part of Mediative. He is renowned in the industry for his expertise when it comes to understanding online user and search behaviour. He and the Enquiro team have built a solid reputation for being the leading experts when it comes to understanding what happens on a search portal and why. Before Enquiro, Gord was chairman and director of SEMPO (The Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization), he worked as a columnist for MediaPost and Search Engine Land, and he was a regular speaker at industry conferences and events. Gord is also the author of The BuyerSphere Project: How Business Buys from Business in a digital marketplace.


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