Last week, I focused on the idea that you don’t know what you don’t know, and that therefore, it’s important to keep an open mind in order to avoid stagnation in your marketing strategy.
This week, a blog post from one of the most well-respected marketers in the world seems to have lent credence to my assertion.
Here’s what happened:
I decide to check my Twitter stream and come across retweet that reads “Doing it wrong, relentlessly” and links to a blog post on Seth Godin’s blog.
Now for those that don’t know, Mr. Godin is one of the most accomplished marketers in modern history, having published a variety of fantastic books on the subject of marketing as well as having launched a variety of successful start-ups. In fact, you can make the case that he’s the greatest marketer (or at least the greatest marketing author) alive today.
Anyhow, back to said blog post.
In it, Godin references Neil Patel’s post over on seomoz.org, which lists 12 things that will kill a blog post every time. He then goes on reveal that he’s doing 7 out of the 12 things that Neil advises against. Moreover, he explains that he’s doing these things on purpose and finishes the post by stating that the main lesson or takeaway for him is that “One way to work the system is to work the system. The other way is to refuse to work it.”
My gut reaction was to think that Mr. Godin was suffering from a similar type of hubris that afflicted Pulitzer prize-winning columnist Gene Weingarten, in that he mistakes his lack of understanding about marketing tactics like SEO for an affirmation of his personal core principles that guide his craft. This sentiment was strengthened when I attempted to @ reply Godin on Twitter only to find out that Mr. Godin does not actually interact with anyone on Twitter (thanks for the heads up Ross). Instead, he uses Twitter as a one-way, non-interactive, broadcast channel, which is more or less the opposite of what most successful social media practitioners suggest as well as the opposite of what I’ve personally found to be a path to social media success for both myself and the clients and employers I’ve worked for over the years.
I then spent some time reflecting on Godin’s main takeaway, trying to open my mind to his point of view. After all, he is one of the most successful marketers around, and he helped chip away at traditional interruption marketing before the internet became mainstream and facilitated a new way of doing things. Moreover, the fact that he linked to Neil’s post and recognized that he was “doing it wrong” implies some level of affirmation for the assertions being made by Neil in the first place.
Still, it was hard for me to identify with any of his core assertion for a variety of reasons. First off, as a blogger and friend of bloggers (many of which are wildly successful) I tend to agree with most if not all of the 12 assertions that Neil Patel made in his aforementioned post. Secondly, Neil is one of the most well-respected voices in the online marketing community and is a very successful interactive marketer and entrepreneur in his own right. Thirdly, Godin rose to fame at a time when channels like SEO were little more than an afterthought and the term social media didn’t even exist, and so despite his overall marketing acumen he’s not necessarily an expert in either of these specific marketing facets.
Even as I write this, I’m still questioning myself, wondering if perhaps I’ve missed the point of Godin’s post, because it’s so hard for me to accept that one of my marketing heroes could be so flat out wrong. But he very well could be, and perhaps that’s the main takeaway.
Don’t take Seth Godin at his word just because he’s Seth Godin
Don’t take Neil Patel at his word just because he’s Neil Patel (or because his post went viral on SEOmoz).
Don’t take Gene Weingarten at his word just because he won a Pulitzer prize.
And definitely, whatever you do, don’t take my word for it!
All appeals to authority are a fallacy and they can, at times, lead the unsuspecting marketer astray. In fact, they can and do lead folks astray all the time in many facets of life, but that’s a story for another day on another blog…
So instead of relying on appeals to authorities, realize that you don’t know what you don’t know and spent the requisite time testing and measuring to see what works for you and your marketing program. That’s the only reliable way to figure whether you side with Seth Godin or Neil Patel, and it’s also the only reliable to pave a way towards long-term marketing success.
I’d like to think that Mr. Godin would agree with me on that.