Today I get the honor of participating in the Q&A panel for the SMX West session entitled Differentiate or Die. There are some really sharp minds and one true search icon that will share the stage with me, and so I know that it’s going to be a very humbling experience.
And interestingly, with every passing day I continually rediscover that humility is one of the primary character traits that determines long-term success in the online marketing space. More specifically, if you want to be successful as an online marketer, you had better come to terms with the fact that you don’t know what you don’t know.
This is probably an easy thing to accept for relative newcomers and small business owners that have to wear the marketing hat while also juggling the rest of their organizational roles. But for the grand majority of “experienced” marketers (especially those that work in the enterprise space) it’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you’ve got it all figured out and that your methodology and knowledge of your particular channel is beyond reproach.
And why not? After all, your KPIs look relatively solid and you continue to see solid growth YOY. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
Not necessarily. One of most challenging facets of the online space is the dizzying pace of technological innovation. Whether it’s Google launching a major algo tweak and/or Adword feature or whether it’s one of the multitude of newly born startups leveraging heavy amounts of machine learning or the latest social networking flavor of the month, our industry is the birthplace of daily innovation.
Because of this technological saturation and because of an admittedly high signal to noise ratio, a lot of marketers choose to simply put their blinders on and adopt a very conservative approach to testing, experimentation, and adoption. In other words, they wait for someone else to prove the value of new innovations before they’re willing to take it for a spin.
That’s probably a good approach if you’re happy being in the middle of the competitive pack, but if you’re interested in taking your brand to the forefront, you have to start digging around into the nuts and bolts of your program as well as reading up and tracking down the new technology start-ups that are catering to your specific marketing channel(s). Why? Because it’s a mathematical certainty that what you’re currently doing is necessarily incomplete, and kicking the tires on newly developed features, techniques, networks, and technology are the only way that you can truly evolve your marketing program.
Or you can just continue on doing things they way they’ve always been done, believing that you know everything, and that your program incorporates everything under the sun and that there’s no reason to urgently pursue new opportunities to innovate. Just be aware that your competitors might not be so complacent.
They might be busy figuring out what they don’t know yet, and then using that newly acquired knowledge to differentiate while you’re busy dying.