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June 7, 2011 - Marketing 101
You get what you pay for…
I met Bob just before I fell into (his words) the “evil pit”; aka “marketing communications.” That was a gazillion years ago at Cal State Fullerton. He taught classical literature and Latin to children of spoiled university brats – “sic semper tyrannis,” he says. I was one of those brats, I suppose.
We keep touch so that he can jabber at me in that dead language. He says that the only other purpose it serves is helping attorneys make their “sorcery” as impenetrable as possible – deus ex machina. And, he adds with an added slice of cynicism, “Quidquid Latine dictum sit, altum viditur.” Trans: everything sounds more impressive when said in Latin. Consensio? LOL!
Here’s a new Latin invention that ought to make Bob curl up in his grave (when he gets there): Accipio pro pensus: or in the custom of the vulgar dialect: “you get what you paid for.”
Maybe I’m just mirroring Bob’s cynicism. To be fair, I am a public relations practitioner (full disclosure) and naturally there is bias. But the truth is, if you haven’t noticed, we tend to create new eMarketing models for just about every pop trend that happens along. Now we need specialty eProfessions? eGod.
We didn’t start thinking about optimizing our sites for search engines until shortly after 1997 and the term itself didn’t take hold until around 2000. I was actually rooting for the more accurate “search engine results management.” Then social media stormed at us between 2003 and 2007, and with it, the conundrum over what to do with swelling audiences on Twitter, Facebook, et cetera. Schools like San Francisco State University now offer a certificate in social media marketing. A year ago, somebody posted this article on Technorati expounding the virtues of other colleges offering much the same. All well and good – but haven’t we been here before? Underneath the fashionable accouterments of this dot com and that, aren’t we merely communicating with our target publics?
Where I take exception to the current trend is when “experts” swarm around the new terminology like smelt during spawning season. Remember the previous confabulation when people blustered about the need for “desktop publishing experts” and really what they wanted was somebody well versed in graphic production and publishing? Remember the mad dash to grow “Webmasters”? My only surprise is that somebody didn’t try to formalize ‘TechnoGuru’ into a degreed profession.
Being an expert in Social Media is like being an expert at taking the bread out of the refrigerator. You might be the best bread-taker-outer in the world, but you know what? The goal is to make an amazing sandwich, and you can’t do that if all you’ve done in your life is taken the bread out of the fridge.
Jargon – no matter how clever or trendy – do not master the art that they were intended to serve. I have no problem with people learning and working all things SEO and SMM. I have no problem if somebody does a lot of that kind of work. But when we surrender to the ‘mystery’ of the tech and allow the jargon to define the art, that’s when we lose vital perspective on the true task at hand. These new terms ought to be treated as functions in a total public relations and marketing communications strategy. They should be integrated into a total plan that includes research, planning, implementation and evaluation. Moreover, they need to be weighed along with all marketing functions for BOTH ROI’s – (relevance, originality, impact AND return on investment!). Capisce?
Now then. Caveat emptor: let the buyer beware! -HP