Look to the future please!

Of the many (hundreds?) meetings we have had with various potential clients over the past few months there’s a common theme that continues to stifle nearly all of them: The future.

At times it’s almost like we’re fighting a crisis of courage where the decision gatekeepers are seduced more by the comfort zone of mediocrity than the safety zone of leadership.

We are in the privileged position to be able to make a sizeable difference to the current performance of our customers’ digital adventures, but when you sit at certain tables, you can’t help thinking that there are very few companies that really plan beyond what can realistically be called a “quick fix”.

Sure, I enjoy nothing more than sorting out the digital maps and creating relationships between all departments – PR, marketing, web, sales, SEO – in the strategic planning of communications decisions, but as the magnificent Katie Paine put it on her return from the third European Digital Leadership Conference:

Marketers are still looking for those big numbers, and when confronted with much more meaningful metrics like the percent of all those “likes” that are actually engaged in sharing and commenting on your content, the numbers are just too small to register in the marketers’ minds.”

I would go a little further. While it obviously affects marketing, the reality is that this mindset affects all corporate silos with the result that very few companies invest further than the next quarter, which makes introducing a more accurate, scientific approach based on big data that would allow them to understand and leverage their customers’ and prospects’ real-world relationships to substantially improve customer acquisition, cross-sell and retention, all the more difficult.

As curious (and at times overly-assertive!) observers of the online world, our view of the web shares much with this brilliant piece from ZDNet:

The world wide web remains one of the greatest disruptive forces in human history. On an average day it can give you access to a vast wealth of human knowledge from a simple search box, show you snapshots from the lives of friends and family spread across the planet, provide a world-class education for freecrowdfund solar power in ways that governments can’t affordredistribute food that would have been wasted, and sweep corrupt rulers into the dustbin of history.

There is a huge structural change in the systems of communication we are used to underway and it affects everything from politics to e-commerce. And yet when we sit at certain tables, the sad truth is that these nascent systems of new standards and behaviour pale behind “right-now” media planning and “safe” forecasts that blindly consider the web as just another channel for an extra sale – an idea I fully support when that same sale generates value for both my clients and their customers.

It’s not all bleak, though. Some smart agencies (no names) and customers are starting to look beyond the “either/or” marketing proposals and are adopting interesting marketing strategies, even older ideas like this one which have instantly-recognisable value and are still being discussed but have yet to gain the traction they deserve.

What’s your view on the marketing landscape? Are you planning to survive, or building a leadership?

Michael Walsh
Senior Corporate Digital Strategist specialized in designing and implementing effective web communication strategies and service portfolios for small, medium and global firms.
Michael Walsh
Michael Walsh
Michael Walsh

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