Digital Marketing by Imitation Only

Life is a marketing parallel

There are lessons to be learned everywhere. Anyone who has a two-year-old knows that those lessons abound every day as we watch them develop and learn to navigate, sometimes awkwardly, in their new world and the ever-growing number of new situations.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that it is very much like every one of us living in the ever-changing, evolving and pivoting world of digital marketing/marketing automation. Things change every day and every time I think I have a good handle on the world, the tech, and the trends I find my foundation shaken with some new earth-shattering thing coming down the pipeline. Be honest, how often have you been in a conversation with a group of marketers with this sense of, “am I the only one who didn’t know that, (fill in the blank), is a thing now?” We all come across it. Staying ahead of the curve is impossible, keeping up with the curve is demanding.

This happens to those of us deeply entrenched in the business, networking at events, watching webinars, reading endlessly on blogs and publications. So how do you think those outside our area of expertise feel?

My daughter is two. She is awesome. She is totally cute. She is an imitator!

Whenever we are out or in a new situation she intently studies the other kids and adults in the room, mostly the kids, and does whatever they are doing. She can never win at Simon Says because as long as one kid falls for the un-Simoned command, my little one is right there with them.

It’s not a bad thing. She learns so quickly because of this habit. She soaks in all of the things around her and figures out how to dance, jump, play on things and a myriad of other life things. It’s not just with other kids either or when we’re out. She has a mini version of a potty in our bathroom. ‘Nuff said…

It isn’t just about what other people do, it’s about what they say. She picks up sayings, and responses to questions and all sorts of things, especially from mommy and daddy. Some good, some, well, “C’mon people, drive!” Admittedly that comes from me. I live in Atlanta. I should be given some grace.

The upside.

The awesome side of all of this imitating is that I can also model for her the right things to do and the right things to say and she will do them. My daughter knows how to say please and thank you when asking for and getting things. I didn’t have to explain the social norm for doing so and the way that it creates a trained response in the other person to desire to do the thing when we say please. Instead, I just told her, “Say please when you ask for something.”

So digital marketing. Yeh, I’m getting there.

I’ve noticed something else. My coworkers, not in our function, supervisors and their bosses. They repeat what I say. Sometimes when I’m lucky they repeat what I do.

Think about it. You’re the president of a large organization. You have a ton of things to do every day of the week. Most aren’t related to digital marketing, often related to growing the business and usually trying to get stuff right along the way. If I, who lives and breaths marketing automation, sales enablement, etc have a hard time keeping up with things and knowing what to say in a business setting. How do you think they feel?

It’s my job.

It’s my job to help educate others in my company on what is going on in the digital marketing world and it’s my job to educate others on what I/we are doing in that space to further the organization. Tout the successes, explain what we learn from the failures. Share how things work and what new things are coming.

If you have ever muttered the words, “My organization is just too old school to get what I am trying to do.” Then you are guilty, as I am, of not providing the right amount of education. In digital marketing terms, we are working with two-year-olds. They are looking at this big new world with all of the possibilities and all of the words they don’t understand, all of the content coming their way they have no context for and they are just trying to get on even footing.

When I want my daughter to understand something new I try to make sure I fully get it myself first. Then I put myself in her shoes and from the lens of her eye’s world. At that point, I explain it to her from that perspective. Does she get it the first time? Pretty much never. Do I give up, throw my hands in the air and say, “You are never going to be able to put on your own sock!” and walk away? No, I show her again, explain it again, give her the nuances and reaffirm with what the benefits will be to her long-term.

You’re smart. You can draw the parallel.

I used to get aggravated when we were in a room and my boss would parrot to his boss something I explained about digital marketing just days ago. “How dare he steal my idea, my thunder, my jam?”

Now I beam with pride.

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