Warning: this is about the same as I probably will ever get on this blog. I was inspired by all the people tearing the “4 rules” concept from Jordan Peterson, so I thought it was a good opportunity to talk about some of the lessons that I have learned in more than 20 years in the digital space, no matter how small or trivial or large and they can be controversial. If you read this blog regularly, you probably saw me mention all these things at one time or another. But I have never tested them all in one place, so I hope you benefit from it. I originally discussed what I wanted to name this post. I played with the term “4 rules of digital maturity”, but I did not want to insult those who disagree with me or who have not followed these rules in the past. I also considered digital awareness, but it seemed even more philosophical than most people would expect from such a technical blog.
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In random order, here are my 4 rules for digital marketers:
- You need help.
- Design is subjective; no results.
- You need a post-deployment content strategy.
- It is difficult to commoditize thinking.
Rule 1: You need help.
I sincerely believe that every marketing team needs external help from an agency or consultant, even if they took all their production work upon themselves. I don’t care if you are a transnational corporation, mom-and-pop shop or any other organization – if you have internal resources working on your digital presence, you absolutely need external eyes on your initiatives. What for? Well, firstly, you may miss the obvious. It’s easy to miss simple things because you are too deeply invested. This happens all the time.
Secondly, you must be honest about how you and your team are exposed to best practices. If you manage one or two domains on your own, you are missing out on tons of opportunities that exist as the market around you changes. An external assistant can shed some light on areas where you may not have much understanding. Finally, external resources can help resolve disputes or directed disagreements on your team. This is because they will solve them on the basis of quantitative data, and not only on the basis of feelings or domestic politics.
I urge all organizations to have an external resource that they can turn to. If not for production work – also called “doing” – then get some help with “thinking.” You will benefit more from this type of organization than you think. One final note regarding this rule: The Internet is still Wild West. You need to carefully check who helps you. With the exception of some existing certifications, there is no regulation or supervision in our industry. There are no licenses. You must carefully check everyone who works on your project and has access to your systems. Too many people get burns from bad actors; it makes those of us who are legitimate in the industry, frustrated and evil. Carefully monitor, check links, and check the previous work product before entering into any relationship with an agency or consultant.
Rule 2: Design is subjective; no results.
If I had a dollar for every potential client who would tell me that he wants the design to be “clean”, “open”, “easy to navigate …”. Oh my god, I would be retired. The truth is that this request is driving us crazy. You see, everyone claims to want a modern design; they need amazing design features and a fully personalized user interface. They want to “move the needle,” etc. But in almost all of these conversations, discussion of the desired results never occurs. Customers, for the most part, are too interested in impressions and less in performance.
It is important to focus on the intersection of the two. I want to create an ultramodern design that will increase confidence in the company (see Rule No. 1), while increasing your productivity indicators. Do not rely on the agency to determine and focus on the results you want – you need to come and find out what statistics are important and what are your goals for the project as a whole. Agencies can help, but this is something that should be so close and dear to you as a business owner or marketer so that you know the answer before we finish asking the question. Some people may say that “the results do not matter.” They are simply confused because even creating a positive impression is a result that can be quantified. Always focus on the new design in this order: firstly, what are you trying to achieve, and secondly, how the design can look great, increase confidence and lead to the desired results.
Rule 3: You need a post-deployment content strategy.
This is often recognized at a high level, but in practice is overlooked. I will definitely ask all potential customers about this when they first contact them, because content transfer / migration can be a serious task.But it does not stop there. What is your current post launch strategy? Many people miss this important step. Before starting a project, prepare a plan not only for the transfer of content, but also for planning to improve the content after the launch of the site. This includes both content creation, content strategy, and technical know-how. Will your team have the ability to create content and manage it through the CMS? Will they need training? What will they need in terms of ongoing support? All this should be thought out and developed at an early stage of your project, if not earlier than it starts.
Rule 4: It is difficult to commoditize thinking.
I came to the conclusion that the digital manufacturing business is highly commoditized. You can hire developers and designers from all over the world, and the price can vary from 10 to 250 dollars per hour. Crazy, right? And I agree that it makes sense to commit production when the input is clearly defined, and the output is easy to test, quantify and deploy. But you cannot commoditize thinking. It just doesn’t work that way.
The idea that most quality agencies and consultants can differentiate. My message to customers is very simple: to go with the lowest bid often means least of all thoughts. As a rule, the person who offers the highest price has the greatest depth of thinking (and the ability to connect with influential people). I do not want to pounce too much on this issue. I would rather leave it as it is and let you think about your past projects. When one of them succeeded or failed, was it in real production or was it erroneous thinking?
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