Marketing is common sense

I’ve worked in the marketing industry, in one form or another, since the mid-1990s (save for a couple-year break when I did technical writing, but we’ll ignore that for now). I’ve seen a lot in those many (many) years, but one thing has really stuck through all of that: what marketing does.

That’s not a question, it’s a realization. Truth is, most people don’t know what marketing is, or what it’s supposed to do. Most people think marketing is advertising: making TV commercials, radio blurbs, internet banners, print flyers, and so forth. To a degree, marketing is absolutely involved in that process, but the act of doing advertising is tactical, whereas marketing is strategic. And the end of the day, marketing does something that most people don’t realize:

Marketing is about creating common sense.

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20 Years a Web Developer

Twenty years ago this month — and very possibly this week, though I’m not 100% certain of that — I entered into the very nascent industry of digital marketing. At the time, the project had been little more than a simple idea, something to possibly prove my own abilities, a problem that sort of needed solving. And yet, little did I know at the time, it would send me down a long and sometimes disturbingly windy path.

It’s also a milestone where one does need to consider … well, everything. Honestly, a bit of reflection and introspection is needed from time to time, but the decade markers seem to have a certain extra amount of importance. Though to be honest, that’s just a perceived thing; there’s no legal or social reason that I’m aware of. It’s more about having a well-defined chunk of time to really take that step back and say:

“Ye gods I’m getting old…”

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Selling the awful to the angry

Yesterday evening, my family trucked down to 96th Ave SW, invited by the Calgary Board of Education (along with the other families in the Westgate School Bilingual Spanish program) to view the “new” school, Eugene Coste Elementary. It was supposed to be a chance to see the new location, and ask questions of the CBE Area IV director, as well as the Planning & Transportation folks.

I emphasize the word “supposed” — that was the CBE’s perspective. They thought they would get a lot of interest, and a lot of people who were genuinely happy that a solution had been found for the accommodation woes at Westgate School, which is at over 90% of its rated capacity.

But, funny thing, there weren’t many happy people.

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Marketing Red Herring: QR Codes

I’m in digital marketing. I spend a lot of time dealing with ways of people visit websites to get them to spend money. (That’s the short version. The really short, and moderately soul-suckingly depressing version. The long version is … an entire career.) So I deal with a lot of different ideas, tools, methodologies, and directions that — in theory — make everyone’s lives easier.

Every so often, we get hit with buzzwords. Sometimes, they’re tech-related, like DHTML, AJAX, and HTML5 (remember, I deal with these things every day — I know what they really mean). Sometimes, they’re things like “progressive enhancement” or “responsive design” (yes, buzzwords — they can grossly over-simplify reality). And then there’s the Big Shiny™ stuff that distracts from simplicity.

Let me tell you a few things about QR Codes

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How to really succeed in (any) business

Recently, if you’ve been following this blog, you know my family has been going through a kitchen renovation. It’s not quite done, but it’s turning out very nicely, and we really, really, really cannot wait for it to be all over and done. It’s not that it’s been particularly frustrating — inconvenient for day-to-day life, maybe — it’s just that it’s extra stress that I really do not want.

The entire process has really reinforced my belief that if you want to succeed in business, you need to do two things well: Communicate, and set expectations. If you do nothing else right, these two will save your ass, not to mention help you get out of the mess you got yourself into.

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Marketing is from Mars, IT is from Venus

I’ve spent over a decade in the Big Leagues of interactive marketing. I started in the low rungs as a web developer, and slowly worked my past the coding to see the bigger pictures: what made marketing work, why certain campaigns were better than others, how to think like a client, and so forth. These are all truly interesting skills, and helped a lot with the projects I worked on.

One thing that regularly amazed me, however, was how often a client’s internal IT group seemed to have non-trivial input on almost every aspect of an initiative, from the way it was hosted right down to the specific use of a given image. I often found myself watching our best-laid plans being eaten away to the point of delivering something I was less than happy with. The repeat experience led me to focus on one inexorable fact:

IT departments should never have any input on the marketing website. Ever.

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