As I mentioned in my last post, I spoke at Wordcamp NYC recently. It was a great event, as an attendee and as a presenter. One of the experiences that made the day so worthwhile was, I must admit, a little bit of a shock. It came out of a conversation with a fellow digital marketer and web developer, Judi Knight, who has a completely different approach to wireframing than we do.
Since I was speaking just a few hours later on that very topic — actually, the whole design & development planning process — panic pretty quickly set in. What if everything I was planning on saying was wrong?! What if I looked like an idiot and there was general revolt amongst the audience?!
At least some of that was general pre-public speaking jitters, but it did bring to light the importance of an open mind. That is, there’s great value to not having the “that’s how we’ve always done it” mindset in your approach to digital marketing.
So after my initial freak-out moment, I realized that Judi’s approach, while clearly very powerful flexible, and cost effective for her and her team, was not a good fit for our clients and their expectations, for a variety of reasons.
But I continued to wonder whether that was really true or it was just my ego defending the “truths” I was already invested in. Without going anywhere near the current polarized political climate in the U.S., it’s easy to see how dangerous a closed mind can be to getting great digital marketing results.
So, I continued to wonder whether this new-to-me idea could be of value, and I am still thinking about how we might adapt her approach to our process. Could it help us attract different clients? Could it help us better serve our existing clients? Could it save us money?
I would encourage you to think about your own processes in the same way. That can be quite difficult to do without outside stimuli (AKA a kick in the ass) so it’s worthwhile to look for opportunities to refocus your perspective. Here are a few suggestions on doing just that.
Obviously, with my story above, colleagues at other firms really do need to be at the top of my list. That’s why it’s worth going to gathering of like-minded folks. You may not meet your next client, which is often our focus in attending events, but you may find a fantastic new way to win business.
For example, I actually had a second experience at Wordcamp with a colleague telling me about a tool she’s just started using as a replacement for one I’ve been dying to dump for nearly a year. I can’t wait to check it out as it could lower our costs for one particular service line and make it easier for us to attract new business there.
These are almost the same thing as colleagues at other firms. That is, that’s likely exactly what they were until you hired them. So ask them, as they’re getting oriented, not just to buy into “The Andigo Way” or whatever you call your company culture, but to examine it and offer ideas on things that just don’t make sense or seem inefficient. (And if they come from an entirely different industry, all the better. They’re even more likely to have a different take.)
Coaches and consultants are typically far, far better at answering process-oriented questions than we are ourselves. That’s part of why they can be so valuable. They have the detached perspective that most of us lack, and they have the experience of helping organizations of all types. So even if they aren’t, say, experts in the wireframing process, they’ve probably dealt with many firms just like yours. They may not have the answers, but they are adept at facilitating the process in which you find the answers yourself.
Despite conventional wisdom, the intertubes are good for more than sharing cat videos and spewing political invective at idiots. (Read: anyone who doesn’t agree with me. I jest … ) It’s also a great place to find a community of folks deeply passionate about just about any subject you can imagine. (Like, cat videos, for example …) And you’re likely to find a range of opinions from the most conservative to the most avant garde. From toe-the-line corporate thinking to roll-your-own risk taking.
Wherever on that spectrum you find yourself, and whatever problem it is you’re grappling with, one or more of these groups above can help you approach your digital marketing in a more effective way. The key, though, is in being open to new ideas and different ways of thinking in the first place. Adopting that open mindset can power innovative thinking and extraordinary marketing results.