A short while ago I wrote a post that said social media strategists will be gone in 2 years. The general thesis is that there must be a core strategy that drives what we as marketers do — otherwise we are just building the plane while trying to fly it at the same time.
My perception is that the idea was well received by most — but sharply criticized by others. As one person commented, “Social media is a TACTIC that you build a STRATEGY around.”
I believe that’s deeply misguided point of view but it’s symptomatic of overexposure to the current state of blogging: Mind-numbing regurgitation in a world where words have become disposable. The conversation around marketing strategy has largely dwindled to the blog post about 10 tips for this and 5 tips for that; it’s tactical and nothing more.
Such posts are easy to write…and easier to read. Many bloggers will attest — tips get clicks — but I worry sometimes we’re doing it at the expense of deeper thinking. To be clear, I’m guilty of it too, though deep down inside, I loathe writing them, but there’s a self-indictment here.
Ten or so years ago I remember sitting in a presentation at a networking event. The speaker was laying out an articulate argument about features vs. tactics; marketers love to talk features, but customers buy benefits. As I remember the presentation — and memories are flawed — it was a well thought out talk that started with positioning and flowed down to the benefits by which customers form their perception of brands.
“When it comes to marketing messaging, people generally respond to benefits rather than features.”
Tonight I searched — Google Incognito — for “features vs. benefits” to see what might turn up; 271 million results for this age old, but fading, discussion. The top search term was an article published in 2000 by Entrepreneur. That article is 12 years old. It has 24 social shares — which have obviously been more recent than the article’s original publication date.
In fact, the first four results all bore the marks of a similar dateline until the fifth result popped with a dateline of 2012. To it’s credit, that fifth result is a post begins with the lede, “When it comes to marketing messaging, people generally respond to benefits rather than features.”
Next I searched for “best time to tweet.” The results? 1.7 trillion of them; trillion with a “T” like our national debt and the first five results all had datelines of 2012. Mashable is currently claiming the top spot with this gem, “The Best and Worst Times to Share on Facebook, Twitter.” That post has earned about 13,000 social shares.
Hot dog! When’s the best time to tweet about strategy?
For the record, I read that Entrepreneur post and the article sums it up nicely:
Most SOHO owners decide what business to start based on two factors: 1) what they’re good at and like to do, and 2) what they assume possible customers will buy. Often those latter assumptions are correct, but small-business marketers also assume that prospects will understand why they should buy the product or service just because they’ve been told about it. Thus, business owners only communicate the features of their product or service to prospective customers and neglect to mention the benefits.
In other words, if we’re marketing an alarm clock, a feature might be “self-setting ” to which the benefit is “convenience.” I’d add that flows from the position we’d like our customers to perceive our product: an entirely new category of smart clocks, that take phone calls and allow you to send emails too. These clocks will automatically schedule your tweets for the best performing publication time.
Yeah, I made that last part up. Now off to write a post about 10 tips for strategy; there’s great content to be re-purposed.
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Nothing like threatening folks with the loss of their security! LOL. I think you are right, but true marketing strategy is in revival. People want more than tactics.
I think your concern about "deeper thinking" is well founded. The need for instant gratification and social shares/comments has impacted our collective willingness to take time to construct posts and pieces that go deeper.
It is easier to punch out a post that has a spin that is similar to others than to put something together that stands alone and apart.
We could argue that it is short sighted because while you might have a better chance to gain some quick exposure it is less likely to position you outside of the crowd.
@geoffliving And I hope you are right, Sir, if not leading the way with your blog.
@thejoshuawilner Wow, Joshua, that's really well put. Thanks for adding!
@Frank_Strong The sad but honest truth is that I am part of that crowd. I have to remind myself that this is a marathon and not a sprint, but it takes effort.
I am like many others who are trying to use my blog to build a brand and establish credibility and authority in a number of areas. With limited resources it becomes easier to give in to the "Dark Side" and hope that maybe I can draft off of the echo chamber and gain some momentum.