Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Admen need to go back to school

I had one of those humbling experiences this morning when I realized how ad and marketing people overcomplicate everything. I was talking to my wife, Julia, over coffee about my struggles to explain a social marketing strategy to a group of people.

I talked passionately about how I had learned to turn away from attention-getting (but ultimately self-serving) "shock and awe" campaigns and to focus more on creating stories and experiences that engage people. You know, the big scary social media world we admen are racing to come to grips with.

"Oh, I get it," she said to me. "You're not selling, you're teaching."

Julia teaches English public elementary school, Grade 4.

"Of course you don't get anywhere by surprising people," she said. "Learning isn't about surprises. That interferes with the learning process. If you don't prepare people for what they're about to learn, the lesson will be lost. The level of learning will be much greater if you prepare them for the lesson, then provide support."

This was exactly what I was trying to come to terms with: a campaign strategy that involved a slow, social-media-based awareness build to create context for later direct marketing and paid media efforts, followed by online tools, continued media relations, and sustainable community-building. But without all the jargon.

Sounds like Julia has known more about social marketing than me for... well...  years.  No wonder I'm hot for teacher.

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