As you're sitting in the meeting you'll be tempted. The client will be getting excited about a great campaign she saw, an almost irrationally funny video he forwarded, a big crazy deadline that was just passed down. Whatever. The energy will be there. Creating temptation to PROMISE. To promise big. To guarantee what comes next.
But, as you wade into the interactive waters, solemnly swear to never let these 5 career-killer promises cross your lips:
#1 Don't Say: Yeah, we'll do something viral. There's an element of common sense here: Truly viral campaigns - the ones that take off and spread organically to millions - are extremely few and far between. If you promise to be one of them, you're rolling dice at an extremely high stakes table.
In The Tipping Point, Gladwell theorized that creating viral behavior was potentially possible because there are a limited number of truly Influential people out there. People with credibility rich enough and networks deep enough to, well, seed a virus. Get one of them on board and you've got all the reach you need to have America cheffing up elves or watching people jump into jeans.
Watts opened a much broader study an determined two key things:
- Influence is much more democratic. Truly viral campaigns are as likely to be started by average joes as the most popular kids in the world
- And, if society isn't ready to engage with an idea, it will never take off.
Great quote from his recent (cover story) interview with Fast Company:
Perhaps the problem with viral marketing is that the disease metaphor is misleading. Watts thinks trends are more like forest fires: There are thousands a year, but only a few become roaring monsters. That's because in those rare situations, the landscape was ripe: sparse rain, dry woods, badly equipped fire departments. If these conditions exist, any old match will do. "And nobody," Watts says wryly, "will go around talking about the exceptional properties of the spark that started the fire."
Instead talk about: What success looks like.How much pass-along is reasonable for the content and investment? Is reaching 3x the people you paid to reach good ROI? I think YES. Is reaching 30 million people on a $15,000 budget likely? I think NO. Possible, but very unlikely.
#2 Don't say: If we build it, they'll come. These days, we are nearly assaulted by choice. So many choices that finding, let alone decision-making has become increasingly complex. The Internet is home to 170 million sites. All of them competing for ranking, for reputation, for attention.
A great idea, a great site has become little more than tabletakes in the fight for that attention and engagement. Building traffic,reputation and community requires an investment separate from the much-more-straight forward creation.
Instead talk about: What's our seeding and publicity strategy? How will we let people know about the site? Word is that traffic giant Career Builder leverages the sheer number of their employees to seed new campaigns. Each employee is asked to tell 10 people about a new site (like Monk E Mail)
#3: Don't say We're full service, you don't have to worry about a thing. There was once a beautiful time when the big war in business was sales vs. marketing. Do we have bad tools or wimpy closers? Alas, as the two monoliths have come together for good (and a little occasional evil), marketing has taken on a new foe: IT.
If the house IT department chooses to wield Intimidation Tactics, the marketing department can become very hesitant to even try to do anything on the Web. And, when they're pressed into action, they may want to hand off the entire project - just call me when it's done.
As tempting as it is to say yes, you have to hold the line. Even if you're already familiar with the marketing strategy and the customer, you still need your client for three key things:
- Content: Most sites require real content - not just copywriting. You'll need access to experts within the organization, content developed for other projects, etc. Only your client can open those doors and make sure you have the latest, most relevant information
- Socializing / Ownership: You want your client - and her boss - to take ownership in the site. To have touchpoints and input along the way. To go to the mat to make it successful once it's launched. And, importantly, to be able to explain the how, what, and why to other internal stakeholders.
- Integration: You also need the client to build the bridges of integration. With IT, with sales, with business intelligence. Work suffocates in a vacuum.
Instead talk about: How can we coordinate the details for you? Be a great translator who can dig past the gobbledygook of lingo and politics to understand the real motivations and value of each of the stakeholders.
#4 Don't say: We can take your brand into social media. Technically, you can build a Facebook page for the global giant you rep. And, yes you can do searches on Twitter. But you can't make a brand social that just isn't. If there's something worse than not being part of the conversation it's pretending to be part of the conversation.
If the brand isn't there; if the ideas of conversation and authenticity aren't championed by its leaders, you'll quickly head down the path of press-release style content, monitored comments, and irrelevancy.
Instead talk about: Option 1: Be a good steward and tell them to invest the money in making their brand social. Or in sponsoring someone who already is. Option 2: Talk about a campaign. It's much easier to make a campaign, a single clever idea, social than it is a brand. Luckie recently produced some great results for a tourism group by taking that mindset. I'll share that case next week.
#5: Don't Say: We'll make that happen directly with your other vendors. The online world changes minute to minute. Servers crash. Applications get cloogy. Opportunities get missed. There's plenty to be responsible for with your own work, let alone taking on someone else's ship. And, trying to manage a 1:1 contract as the third wheel.
You want to make it easy for your client, but not at the expense of making yourself crazy.
Instead talk about: What kind of integration meetings and partner summits might make sense to ensure that everything is seamless? Can we take a role in making that happen?