Someone sent me “Why I Will Never, Ever Hire a Social Media Expert” this morning and asked me what I thought. In it, Peter Shankman talks about how he’ll never hire a “social media expert.” It’s a scathing article that touches on what’s happening right now in online marketing. Namely, businesses flock to a “tool” because that’s where the audience is, but they are missing something very, very important — that it is not a replacement for a unified, cohesive marketing plan and that it’s one piece of the puzzle.
There are companies out there who run different tools as channels. Their blog is separate from their newsletter which is separate from their social media. In my opinion, this is a mistake because it’s a lot harder to maintain because often there’s no cohesive message or brand identity. Unless, of course, this is intentional. (Even though, in most cases it’s not.)
The challenge with social media and other tools like it, is the cost of implementing them offers an attractive alternative to more expensive options. Compared to direct mail or other marketing tools, they can be pretty cheap for small businesses to use. However, the ease of using something (or its popularity) to reach customers is not a replacement for a marketing plan.
While Peter’s article is pretty ranty, I can understand his frustration. It’s easy to get distracted by the “shiny,” but no new tools will ever replace the core business principles needed to be successful. Just because you have a business focus doesn’t mean you know how to message it.
The same principles are true for authors, however that is infinitely more complex. Why? Because we’re often individuals who have multi-faceted lives. So, to come up with a marketing plan on our own, without the help of a publisher, marketer or agent, is a lot harder. Right now? I don’t have a marketing plan because I am focusing on production. (e.g. Writing, submitting, revising, etc.) In other words, I’ve decided not to “market” myself, unless it’s a specific project, because it doesn’t make sense for me right now.
Regardless, having a solid marketing plan and all of the details that come with that is something I continue to recommend and encourage business owners — small or large — to do. Having that plan takes the guesswork out of a lot of things and can avoid embarrassing mistakes, poor collaboration, and help channel creativity where it’s needed.