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Legacy Marketing Doesn't Work, Now What?


Having just read Paul Gillin's latest book entitled "Secrets of Social Media Marketing" I'm reflecting on the future of the marketing profession, relative to my own past and recent experiences.

In praise of the book's contents, Larry Weber says "Paul Gillin has written a master map for enterprises to succeed in the era of customer conversation and customer control."

In contrast I believe, and with all due respect to Mr. Weber, while it's apparent that much of what is applied as the fundamental principles of marketing doesn't work today -- and is proven to be ineffectual, in so many ways -- the path to success is currently unclear for many marketers.

Granted, that assessment must be very unsettling to anyone approving the marketing budget for their organization. No matter, it would be foolish to deny the results of the body of knowledge and associated case studies that Paul Gillin compiled to outline the themes in his book.

Embracing change is not something that most people do well. It's said that humans are creatures of habit. In fact, sometimes those repetitive activities are manifested as something that appears like the early symptoms of an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Fear of the unknown can make some people react in irrational ways.

Having Missed the First Cluetrain

Unfortunately, marketers that are driven to rigidly enforce the rules of legacy marketing practices, regardless of the mounting evidence that their behavior has become dysfunctional, will be challenged to apply any semblance of a "master map" for social media -- and thereby use it to their advantage.

When the alternatives to the current marketing modus operandi is described within the context of experimentation, is it likely that those who are consumed by anxiety will follow this new path? I think not. Frankly, there's no mystery regarding why most marketers have yet to fully embrace the techniques of social media marketing.

That said, for those that dare to open their mind to the possibility that they must seek a new path, the opportunities for competitive advancement -- relative to their inactive peer group -- are truly unprecedented.

Many of the issues addressed in this book raise further questions about the viability of traditional advertising agencies and public relations firms, since they're so deeply committed to defending and perpetuating the practices from a bygone mass-media era. They, and their loyal clients, are so gripped by fear of negative repercussions from experimentation that staying on their current course seems like the rational thing to do.

Taking Baby Steps, While in Marketing Therapy

In summary, I'll quote this sentence from the book's back cover. "Secrets of Social Media Marketing isn't intended for the ten percent of marketers who are on the leading edge of this phenomenon. It's for the ninety percent who are trying to figure out how to start."

If you're one of those people that have yet to start, then I wish you good luck on your journey. Don't read this book with the expectation that it will lead you to a cure for what ails your failed marketing efforts. Do read it in the hope that you will gain an understanding of your condition, and that you may find the courage to join a local support group in your area.

Updates: The American Association of Advertising Agencies is offering a "Marketer's Guide" that explains why savvy marketers should never use a traditional advertising agency for a digital marketing campaign -- because their costs are too high, they are unskilled to perform the work, you would essentially pay them to learn new skills at your expense, and various other compelling reasons.

The key take-away; Luddites make social media marketing sound like rocket science because they must fully unlearn the mistakes of their past in order to be able to embrace the new model -- online communities and two-way conversations -- with an open mind.

Still not convinced? New research shows a disconnect between the rate at which people are adopting social media and the traditional ad agency use of cross-platform marketing plans.

People using social networks jumped from 33 percent in 2007 to 60 percent in 2008, per the IBM Institute for Business Value. However, 80 percent of agency executives said they won't be equipped to provide marketing plans in the social-networking space -- including sales and measurement -- for another five years.

In a recent survey of 111 chief marketing officers, 55 percent reported disagreeing with the statement, "We trust our ad agency partner to provide us with the digital marketing expertise that we need."

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