Adapt or Die – Are They Only Alternatives?

The demands for better and better social marketing tactics for the digital marketer is constant and unrelenting.  In an article on ‘Digital Darwinism’ posted at PandoDaily.com, Brian Solis makes the case that traditional marketers need to update their skill set to include digital or run the risk of being considered irrelevant.  I am right there with him and think he’s right in a hundred ways, but in my mind I see that the trend to digital is well past the early stage and seriously into being a fixed element in the markets bag of tricks – at least that is, if you’re paying attention.

The legacy of the evolutionary path we’re on is rooted in the days of services like Compuserve and AOL where walled communities were built around topics and times then were wild and woolly in figuring out the way online marketing worked.  In at least one case I know of, a community for truck owners was sponsored by a tire company – by trading a set of tires for banner ads.   A lot has changed since then and no longer is the social marketing world a place to ‘experiment’ with your brand, it is a place for connecting to consumers and businesses and having a conversation with them.

In his article Brian presents ’10 Trends for Transformation’ that are showing the way for the evolving marketer – leadership, vision, strategy, culture, people, innovation, influence, localization, intelligence, philanthropic capitalism.

Each trend is called out by Brian and explored in his post on PandoDaily, but three really caught my eye – strategy, innovation and philanthropic capitalism.

As an online strategist, I see a lot of marketing that seems to be done in a haphazard way, without any consideration for 1) how it connects to the organizations corporate goal and 2) for establishing success metrics and measuring how well the campaign does.  A marketing plan needs to rest on goals established by management and needs to be established so that the impact of the plan and its campaigns can be determined and learned from – better campaigns can be extended, poor ones cut off sooner.

On the other hand, innovation in social marketing is busting at the seams – cool new ways of combining social, location and ecommerce is coming out almost every day.  It is really a great time to be a marketer because everything we can envision today can almost certainly be a reality tomorrow.  Not all of it will work well of course, but the decision of whether or not something is attractive to the social audience can now be left to the audience and they are well enough engaged at this point that they WILL tell us what they like and do not like.  With prudence and respect for the audience as the underpinning of any social program today, we can try new ideas almost as fast as they leap into the brain.

The concept of philanthropic capitalism is really intriguing and the reason it’s on this short list. The way core values of a company that have been portrayed to the market have been summarized in tag lines and images embedded in advertising, but now the conversations between consumers, suppliers, employees and stakeholders of all kinds factor into how the brand is perceived.  Treat your customers well, deliver an awesome customer experience, and treat your staff like people ( not cogs in a machine) and the market will take notice.  Likewise you can use mined, milled or grown materials in your product, but not at the expense of the planet and finally, respect the community you glean your workers from and make sure you contribute to the common good of that community.

Brian’s article does well in bringing many of these elements into the conversation, but these three I see representing important elements that have to be acknowledged by marketers.  If ignored it does not mean mean that the marketer is  less strong, or less intelligent as a marketer – but it may be the indication that they just do not get how social media means ‘social’ first and media second.  If today’s traditional marketers are not more adaptable than the previous generation, they will go the way of the Dodo and the Wooly Mammoth – with good riddance.

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” – George Bernard Shaw

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Image credit – Wikipedia / http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e0/ExtinctDodoBird.jpeg/220px-ExtinctDodoBird.jpeg

The original post was posted at Social Media Club in February 2012 as a member of the editorial contributors; reposted here with a few edits – SG