It's the middle of September and we are in smack in the middle of marketing conference season. As I write this, Advertising Week is in full swing and a number of other marketing, social media and new media events (including OMMA Global, Web 2.0 Expo, Blog World Expo, Inbound Marketing Summit and countless others, I'm sure) have all recently wrapped up.
And as is often the case with these types of events, I'm sure many of these have brought out the usual set of gurus talking about the next big thing to audiences of eager client and agency side marketers hoping to find out what it is, what it means and how to get a jump on the newest, shiniest object before it hits the Marketplace section of the Wall Street Journal.
So I figured I would write a quick blog post advising all the folks who leave these events with visions of shiny new marketing sugarplums dancing in their heads to take a deep breath, turn around and consider which of the 'last big things' they haven't yet used to the fullest of their potential.
Wait a second. A so-called marketing futurist is telling us to back up and retread the ground we've already walked?
In a word, 'yes.'
I've often pointed out that social media insiders need to remember that they are ahead of the curve and can't assume that the rest of world is as excited about (or even aware of) the latest, greatest presence applications, mobile social networks or any other new thing that the gods of Web 2.0 throw our way. Outside the land of the bloggerati and Twitterati, it is still pretty progressive for the average consumer to have both a MySpace and Facebook profile, let alone an account on Flickr, delicious or StumbleUpon. Mention ExitReality or even lifestreaming and your buddy is bound to call for back-up (ummm, pun intended.)
So I'd like to offer similar advice to marketers. Stop fixating on the next, and start getting smart about the now -- or even the recent. Before asking what shiny objects are sparkling just around the bend, take a look at the many, many channels that are available to you today and ask yourself if you've done the best job of experimenting, optimizing, standardizing and internalizing the way you use the long list of the not-so-new to engage consumers.
For example, what does your organization do with the following channels?
- Virtual Worlds
- Social Networking
- Online Community
- Mobile (think SMS, not QR Codes)
- Widgets and Applications
- Feeds (RSS)
- Search Marketing
- Search Engine Optimization
- Behavioral Targeting
- Contextual Targeting
- Branded Content
- Word-of-Mouth Marketing
None of these things are really all that new, anymore. At one time or another, every item on that list (and many others, of course) was buzzworthy. They were the next big thing, or at least the new new thing. And while most still get plenty of play in marketing circles, most don't raise nearly as many eyebrows as they once did. Most probably wouldn't be handed off to your 'innovation' guy or gal, as they might have been even a year ago. They're just more ways to connect with an increasingly multichannel-engaged consumer.
But be honest -- have you cracked the code on any of them yet? I don't believe many marketers have -- fewer still have mastered all of them. But a lot of these very same marketers are already losing interest in the untried, in favor of the unknown.
What can you do better? Which 'new to you' thing from the list above can you test (or better yet, turn into a vital element in your overall marketing mix) before you move along to whatever media or marketing innovation the so-called gurus are crowing about today?
What is your organization doing to master the Last Big Thing?