The next, next, next thing!

Hands up whoever has heard of the Red Queen’s Race?  That was the athletic event in Wonderland where the participants had to run very hard to stay exactly where they were.  I’m becoming convinced that we’re entering in to that sort of event in the online marketing and PR world – and probably beyond as well.  And it worries me.

The article that sparked this off is here – nothing major, really, but it did get me thinking.  Does anyone ever give any online or software technique any realistic time to show whether it can deliver the goods anymore?  Or is it all a case of ‘MTV Attention Span’?  Does everything have to prove itself within a 30 second elevator pitch?  If something does the job, does it effectively and meets whatever targets are set for it, why do so many people jump ship as soon as the ‘next, next thing’ comes along? 

There seems to be no scope today for a technique or technology to get time to prove itself.  Of course, there are going to be some advances that are just so awesomely great that it’s obvious even to a relative techo-Luddite like me that they’re worth using immediately, but for other things, how can you know whether you can get more out of an upgrade when you probably haven’t even measured the value of your current process?  If you’re using online tools like Facebook, Twitter, Search Engine Optimisation to market your business, then do you actually know how much business comes to your site via these various channels?  Because if you don’t then simply changing techniques to fit with the current ‘fad’ is likely to be a waste of time; you simply don’t know whether the new tool is worse or better than the old one!

Impatience with results from all online marketing methods has always been an issue; people still seem to think that making quick money is posisble on the Internet; I’m afraid the only way to do that is probably to sell people on the Internet ‘Get Rich Quick’ schemes!  But flicking from one technique to another and then to another without giving time for them to work or even knowing whether they ARE working is pointless.

So…my advice?

Well, bearing in mind that I am certainly NOT a marketing expert and not a millionaire, all I can say is apply good, sound, marketing techniques, such as:

  1. Measure your traffic to your site or business before you start, using a metric that matters – whether that’s page impressions, money earned, downloads made, whatever suits your business.
  2. Introduce new marketing channels in such a way that business from them is identifiable.
  3. If your business is cyclical in any way, let new techniques run for at least a fair part of that cycle.
  4. When you have your baseline, make changes to the channels one at a time and measure any effects based on those changes.

Just remember the old adage that you cannot manage what you can’t measure; just because the technology changes doesn’t mean that common sense approaches to marketing should change as well.

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