Annually, at around this time, it’s difficult to move on LinkedIn for predictions for the forthcoming year. There are various themes – clickbait inspired ‘you wouldn’t believe how this agency is ripping up the rulebook’ headlines; ‘Something/Nothing/Everything is dead’ prophecies of doom and those intellectually snobbish ‘futurists’ talking in terms so abstract and conceptual that nobody really understands what they’re saying, but are too afraid to ask. An ‘Emperor’s new prognostication’, if you will.
So this year I’m not going to add to the content sludge by adding my particular tuppenceworth, and nor am I going to read any of them until people starting checking whether any of these predictions ever actually come true. What I am going to do is publish my personal list of New Year’s resolutions, related to my role(s) and industry.
#1 Be more honest. There’s a conception (which is probably true in many cases) that agencies and marketing experts push ideas and campaigns onto clients for disingenuous or misguided reasons. Perhaps a media buy with the ad network which gives the agency a big kickback is a good idea, but that shouldn’t be the motivating factor for planning it. Similarly, when a client says ‘We want to do a campaign on Snapchat’, it can be easy and tempting to just go along with it, rather than try and explain to the excitable but naive marketing manager that ‘I’ve just heard about this platform the kids are on’, shouldn’t be a factor in any legitimate planning methodology. We should all be more honest. Be more transparent. ‘Stand up’ to clients. They’ll thank us for it eventually.
#2 No more bullshit. I’m not just talking about the ever expanding industry buzzword lexicon (although that can also Foxtrot Oscar), I’m talking about the nonsense that’s spouted by so many of our industry leaders and passed off as insight. There are too many people in the industry with too many vested interests to upset the applecart, but they should have a good think about what people are actually saying next time they’re at an industry event listening to a keynote or panel event. One of the best ways of identifying bullshit I use is to transcribe the spoken word. When people talk, they’re far more conversational and use colloquialisms and hand gestures and body language which distracts from what they’re actually saying and often people don’ t notice that they’re talking gibberish. But I do...
Here are some great examples.
I wanted to know why Accenture recently bought Karmarama, so I read a Business Insider piece on it:
“An interesting find for us that we have detected from consumer point of view and the CMO point of view is the desire to create one connected experience. If you look at the way CMOs' careers are evolving, the ones that have reached the pinnacle are those that have created a system to connect tech and digital experience with the brand and we think that is the battleground”
I’m still none the wiser.
And my favourite bullshit merchant is AOLs ‘Digital Prophet’, David Shing. Too much of which has been written about for me to find one killer example, so I’m just going to point you in this direction of Scott Gronmark’s blog on the subject: http://scottgronmark.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/i-remember-why-i-gave-up-chairing.html
#3 No more ‘X is dead’ proclamations.
It never is.
#4 Find out how the ‘social media superstars’ with ‘download my free eBook’ twitter profile covers actually make their money.
I know they’ve got 450k followers and tweet 150 times a day and send you an automated ‘thanks for following me, let’s also connect on LinkedIn’ messages, and call themselves ‘guru’ and ‘evangelist’ and ‘rockstar’ and ‘content machine’ and are ranked #34 best online influencers by the www.webmarketinggurus.com podcast, but what do they actually *do*?
#5 No more jumping on bandwagons.
I don’t think I’ve necessarily been that guilty of this in the past, but I think it’s more important than ever to evaluate things with a more critical lens. New isn’t always best and neither is first to market. In the same way I don’t buy a new Apple product until they’ve fixed the initial bugs, I won’t bet the house on a platform or startup that I hadn’t heard of 3 months ago.
#6 Be more inquisitive and challenging.
I’ve been told I’m cynical and that I roll my eyes too often. That’s probably true, but that’s only because I am finding it increasingly hard to cut through the noise and identify the sources of information which I find interesting and educational and useful and that I can learn and grow from. But I’m going to try really hard this year, and instead of dismissing things out of hand, I’m going to try and see the benefit in them and break them down and challenge them. Hopefully I’ll surprise myself and learn something. I’m sure I’ll spark some healthy debate. I suspect it’ll be like a bear climbing a tree to get to a bee’s nest. I’ll probably end up getting hurt, but it will hopefully be worth the pay off.
#7 Eat more vegetables. Drink more water. Get more sleep.
That’s just common sense.