Why Less Digital Is Better Digital


In these turbulent times, the pressure to keep up is high. But what if it is also dangerous?

It’s an exciting time to be a marketing leader, but also an overwhelming one. Digital dominates the conversation—and a growing portion of the budget. But it’s also surrounded by lots of hype, increasing complexity, and constant change.

In response to the pressure to keep pace, many marketers are doing the logical thing: more. Among brands I have talked to in recent months, the by-product of this includes near-dormant social channels left over from earlier experiments, paid media dollars heading in many new directions and delivering unclear results, bloated websites with multiple owners, and well-intentioned innovation projects that die on the vine due to lack of resources or adequate buy-in.

This begs the question: How does all of this feel from the customer’s point of view?

It’s probably like navigating through a vast, poorly planned metropolis. You can find your way from point A to point B eventually. If you really try. But not efficiently. And not without getting lost a few times along the way.

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We call this phenomenon “ecosystem sprawl”—the digital version of urban sprawl—and like its analog equivalent, it happens when the sheer pace and complexity of change outstrips the capacity for good planning and sound management. This is a growing problem in our industry, one that is pervasive and vastly under-diagnosed.

So what causes this to happen?

Call it the mindset of more—an emphasis on doing more, quickly, rather than stopping for a moment to ask why. It’s a very easy trap to fall into. After all, digital is disrupting industries and re-shaping the way we all live. Stressed-out marketers everywhere are all being asked the same question: What are you doing about it?

Plus, marketing has always been a discipline that tends to look to novelty and newness in order to feed the organization’s appetite for growth and competitive advantage.

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