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Rock the boat

Heard the other day that the world currently has a glut of wheat, so farmers in Australia are all planting canola this year. Guess what? In 2013 there will be a glut of canola. So I expect they will all plant wheat again. And so it has gone in agriculture for hundreds of years – boom and bust, feast and famine.

Business is exactly the same. Take the current excitement about social and digital media. Rushing to one side of the boat are all of the early adopters, embracing Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and LinkedIn like their life depended on it, believing evangelically that these new horizons will solve their marketing problems forever.

Back on the other side, clinging to the guard rails,  looking back longingly towards the safety of land, are the troglodytes I spoke about last month who haven’t yet committed to a website, let alone a SmartPhone.

Somewhere in the middle of the deck, swaying sickeningly, are the cautiously optimistic businesses like you, watching and waiting, trying to determine if this risky new frontier is indeed something you wish to inhabit, or whether it is safer to rejoin the crowd on the other side.

It needs saying again and again that social media by itself is not a marketing panacea. It is no more or less worthy than any other element of an integrated marketing communication plan. It’s impossible to yet say (because the research is still under-developed) whether frequent tweeting beats a regular media release program; or that Facebook is more inclined to yield new clients than an e-newsletter; or LinkedIn is preferable to a boardroom lunch with half a dozen prospects; or that YouTube is more powerful than a beautiful book about your company which people can touch and hold.

What I’ve learnt over the years, is that marketing is not much different to an investment – a diversified portfolio provides you with the best long term outcome.
As far as I’m concerned without a carefully planned strategy, informed by incisive research and rigorous thinking, that embraces every tactical tool in the marketing communication armoury (and that certainly includes social media), you are just wasting money.

- Peter Fuller

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