The education and enforcement of best practices are being outpaced by micro-niches and innovation in the marketing industry, and the speed of innovation is gaining a lead. This lead—the gap between the cutting-edge of marketing and where training and accountability end—is the realm in which a company can waste valuable time and lots of money.
I’m an early adopter. I love new micro-niche software and new tactics and new everything. Innovative marketing solutions keep the industry moving and help businesses adapt to evolving consumer behavior, like the shift to Instagram Stories or new LinkedIn ad formats. But when executives and entrepreneurs start to put more stock into new and shiny tools than their own established marketing system, disaster strikes. This is even more apparent with new businesses, in which entrepreneurs are sucked into training program after training program, keeping them in “build mode” for as long as possible. The problem is that the only person to make money in build mode is the marketer.
When I realized these kinds of things were happening, I sensed a need for someone to keep track of it all. To sift through all the micro-niches and decide what works and what doesn’t. I ended up shifting our entire business model at Vivid Labs to do one thing: test all of the new shiny objects in the marketing world. I needed an entire company to keep track of all of it. Executives and entrepreneurs are trying to do it all themselves, and often in their free time or with a tiny slice of their full marketing budget.
As of now, no certification program or college degree has kept up with the marketing micro-niches. I’ve read the textbooks. I’ve gone through the training programs. I’ve received the certifications. Almost all of them were obsolete by the time I returned to them after a year. Most of those micro-niche certifications and training programs out there have less importance than they actually claim. Some of them are just subtle ways of turning you into a salesperson for the certifying company. Are there good ones out there? Sure—I have loved the certification programs from MECLABS and use certifications from Digital Marketer and the AMA as a skill baseline for hiring candidates or freelancers. But on the whole, certifications and training programs are wider in their market appeal than they are in their scope.
Despite this, micro-niche skills and certifications remain a tantalizing prospect for businesses who want to get fast results. In these cases, the micro-niche specificity often breeds ignorance of the larger game being played. So, in their (understandable) ignorance, executives and entrepreneurs decide to jump headfirst into the latest and greatest strategy they heard about at a conference or on a webinar. What they miss, however, is that a real marketer’s job isn’t to be an expert at all the latest tools. Their job is to turn one dollar in marketing budget into more than a dollar in revenue. The method by which they do that is not important.
Frank Kern is one of the marketing guys that I followed since the beginning. He always used webinars and video sales letters, even when the rest of the industry moved on to “automated this” and “evergreen that.” His pages were ugly—I mean, really ugly. White background, black headline, no graphics, just a video. And yet, he still made millions from his product launches because the guy knows how to make the video. He knows that’s where the substance lies, and that people aren’t going to hang around just because the page looks pretty.
If you’re building a house, you aren’t going to care if the carpenter has the latest brand of hammer or a new type of saw. You’re going to care that your stairs don’t collapse. Right now, marketing clients are more worried about the tools than they are about the quality of the carpenter, and it’s costing them big time. Take a page out of Frank Kern’s book—stop chasing the shiniest new tool or platform and figure out where your time really needs to be spent.
What areas of your marketing do you need to return to the foundations of? What would a fresh perspective look like so you can see the bigger game being played?