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Why Woody Allen isn’t a Marketing Consultant

Why Woody Allen isn't a Marketing Consultant

woody allen

Marketing is changing more quickly today than ever before. To be good at what we do, we need to be ahead of the curve. But, you can’t discount those old, time-proven lessons.

Some time ago I worked with a Marketing Communications VP who loved quoting Woody Allen – “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” He lived and breathed that credo. And, as the person who (loosely) controlled the budgets on our biggest ticket expenses, we spent a lot of time and money showing up at trade shows, conferences, in magazines and on television. There wasn’t much thought about why we were spending that money and time.  And there was virtually no thought about what we were trying to achieve.

The time came to launch the company’s first website and we had our obligatory launch meeting. There was clearly a rush to be the first in our industry to launch a website. It was OK if didn’t have clear objectives. It was OK if we didn’t have half of the information we needed. It was OK if we didn’t figure out how to integrate all of our businesses. We had to compromise because, “80% of success is showing up” and we wanted to be the first to “show up”.

The site launched. It was good… but far from great. We were the first but it really didn’t matter to anyone. Our customers didn’t care. They wanted to use our site for decision-making information. Some customers left our site wondering why such a big company would be so haphazard with their site. Well, I could tell them why… because we thought the most important thing was showing up.  And, about 3 weeks after we launched our site, one of our competitors launched theirs.  It was a far, far better site than ours.  Although we were the market leader (by a long shot) they took over the position of thought leader.  They were the beacon of light, the font of knowledge, they danced a thousand glittering factoids on the head of a pin… and looked good doing it.  In our rush to “show up” we plumb forgot to be good at what we do.

Last week I was visiting a new consulting client to talk about a few marketing projects. Within the first few minutes I hear, “Facebook and Twitter are so big, I think we should be in social media.” I ask what they expect to accomplish. Then comes the answer that has echoed in many businesses, “Everyone’s doing it.” We just need to be there.” Please say it ain’t true. The ‘showing up’ mantra has just ‘deja vous-ed’.

Too many businesses are just focused on ‘showing up on social media. There are tens of thousands of static corporate profiles on Facebook, tweetalicious tidbits of company-centric news being sent to people who don’t read them, blank blogs and insipid instagrams. Conversations and customer generated messaging is what the internet was really designed for … and we haven’t even begun to see the full power of the new multi-level messagingSM. But, just showing up is not enough.

Poorly conceived ideas. Insane creative with no clear objectives. Self-indulgent marketing. These things were always wasteful…now; they could be permanent scars on your company, your brand, and maybe on you. It used to take millions of dollars to get a new idea (stupid or smart) into the market. Now, it takes minutes. Your energetic burst of creativity could be permanently etched into the elephant-like memory of the internet…and the impressionable minds of your consumers.

Now, perhaps more than ever, the basics of “good” marketing apply. The first steps still include a thoughtful, insightful, clear marketing plan. Communications still need to sync with objectives and brand positioning. The most successful marketers will figure out how to apply the old marketing rules to the new world. Many already have. What is certain is that just showing up is not enough.

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