I came across a fascinating passage in a book that I’m currently reading in my spare time. The book is about improving how you practice guitar playing, but I believe that it can be applied to virtually any pursuit including interactive marketing.
Here’s the paraphrased excerpt for your reading pleasure:
One of the best things I ever did for my own playing is when I put a sign up in my studio that said, “I don’t know how to play the guitar.” This was after 25 years of playing! Now, this sign sure did cause some questions and comments from my students, but it made me incredibly better by leading me to discover many new things I wasn’t seeing because I thought I already knew what these things were about. Every time I touch the guitar, I try to make it the first time. I recommend you do too.”
Listen to the words of Hector Berlioz (a famous composer): He once listened to the music of another composer who was very educated and learned and knew “everything” there was to know about how to compose (but whose music was rather unremarkable).
After it was over, Berlioz said of the composer, “He has everything. The only thing he lacks is inexperience.”
This really hit home with me because it has so many applications in life as well as in the business of marketing. It doesn’t matter if you’re a tactical specialist (SEO, paid search, dev, design, email, social, mobile, analytics, etc.) or manage a team of specialists or even direct an entire division or organization. The fact is that the moment you lose your sense of humility and curiosity you lose the very competitive edge that will help you succeed in what is becoming an increasingly saturated online marketing landscape.
By the way, this doesn’t mean that you can’t be confident in your skills and experience. It just means that you must guard against creating a close-minded “I know it all” mindset that often hinders true marketing and advertising innovation. And if you do happen to manage a team of marketers, it’s your job to not only create this mindset for yourself, but to also instill it in your people, so that they can become innovators in their own right.
I feel that certain marketing channels really lend themselves to this very humble and open-minded mindset (SEO, development, and analytics come to mind since they reward people that shy away from “best practices” and focus on establishing cutting-edge techniques and strategies) but the truth is that every channel affords you the opportunity to break away from mainstream “best practices” generalizations and into the land of true innovation.
And it’s this breaking away that leads to major ROI, happy bosses and clients, and a happier life in general.