Look, here’s the problem. Your company website is full of 101 design clichés. It features stock photography of businessmen shaking hands & sufficiently ethnically diverse people having fun. You talk about vertical integration and synergies. You’re currently working on a Business Process Map. You not only wear a suit but you wear a tie as well. You come in on a Monday and sit down and wonder what the hell happened.
We’re all lucky to work in one the most exciting, ever changing and cutting edge industries there is. But visit any industry conference and you wouldn’t believe it.
Take away the plasma screens and interactive booths and InternetWorld could easily be Naidex. In fact, Naidex is probably the more interesting of the two to visit. But you get the point, a whole heap of men in suits talking about being “complete solutions providers” as if they were photocopier salesmen.
What happened here? Where did the joy go? When did digital marketing go from exciting to everyday business? After reading a few posts recently, Fadi Shuman’s post on Innovation, Chris Hoskin’s post on Flashturbation and most of all Geoff Barraclough’s post about the Drapers conference. It seems that the industry has reached a point where the Solutions Consultants have taken over, and we’re feeling a dip in true innovation.
So how do we return to those pioneering days? I think we have to learn how to enjoy what we do again. In this post, I spell out ten different ways I keep enjoying what I do. The whole grumpy thing is just an act…
It could also spell out the ways why I’m so goddamn chaotic, but that’s another matter.
My customers are damned cool. My customers are World War II fighter pilots, famed authors and have consorted with Royalty. How do I know this? Because I’ve spoken with them. Because I’ve got into a car and drove around visiting them, the single most useful and fulfilling thing I have ever done. Sitting in their kitchens and talking with them about why they visit our site, what they like and what they hate. What they believe in and what they wish for.
You need to understand your customers, empathise with them and speak their language. Realise how cool they are, and you’ll love every time they get in contact with you.
Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can praise them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things.
We need to release the maniacs, the guys who sit in darkened rooms and change the world. Twitter was not created by performing a Gap Analysis. Have a vision, be obstinate & bloody minded in achieving it. Hang out with the misfits in your organisation, see what’s going on up there and work hard to make sure it comes through to fruition.
Every company in your industry is doing the same thing as you, copying ideas . How can your industry grow if it’s so cannibalistic?
Consort with aliens. Look outside your clique, your group, your industry. If you’re a fashion retailer, go see if you can pay a visit to someone who sells power tools. If you’re a B2B business offering complete end-to-end turnkey integration solutions (and frankly, shame on you ), then go visit someone who does Landscape Gardening. How do they handle the after sales experience? How do they keep the relationship and conversation going with the customer? Next week I’m going to visit a sex toy warehouse.
You need some you time. To try to give shape that little idea that’s been nagging in the back of your head but you can’t but a business case just yet. Take time out, play, try, succeed, maybe even fail a couple of times. Don’t be afraid of failure. If I don’t get time to play, I’ll go crazy.
Be passionate, argue, fight. Stand your ground. If you’re clientside, then you and your agency should have the same objectives. Personally I really enjoy arguments with Mr Boag as well as with other people.
If you’re agency side, then IT IS YOUR JOB to argue with your
client. Don’t just execute whatever they say – nothing annoys me more
than when my agencies do that, if I wanted a factory I’d do it myself.
What I want is for someone to tell and show me how it should be done.
Damn it. You’re clever. You know way, way more than I do. Yes, I know this isn’t hard. But really. I have no idea how SEO actually works. I don’t really know how campaign attribution should happen. I don’t know why I would spend money on a proper analytics suite when Google’s is free.
But I bet you know, so why don’t you share? Write a blog, write on someone else’s (like here!), host workshops, speak at conferences. Impart your wisdom, give us insight & speak your mind. I mean, I have the attention span of a five year old and the communication skills of a teenage boy. If I can do it then so can you.
Information is worthless if you keep it to yourself. I bet if you looked in your databases, you’d have information that is of no use to your business but would be the Golden Fleece to someone else. For example – I can roughly tell what the elderly currently think they are allergic to. I also know that Lancashire Hotpot is most popular in, you guessed it, Lancashire. But I also know what’s the most popular meal in Glasgow, Cardiff & Brighton. Ain’t that interesting. Sharing data not only gives you a warm fuzzy, but it also prompts you to look for trends in unexpected places.
You need to promote yourself, because no-one else is going to. This is one piece of advice my mother gave me (along with “You’ll never be the best, because there’s always someone else in the world better than you” and “It’s popularity that matters” - years before Kristin Chenoworth said it, I might add).
In a similar manner, no one is going to promote your website internally apart from you. This is in fact most important to B2B websites, where there’s not a hard and fast revenue value to report each month. You need to evangelise, be the champion, stand your ground when all around you are making woeful design decisions by committee. You’ll feel better for it and your working environment with improve leaps and bounds.
Entrepreneurial spirit. It’s a wonderful thing. Love your websites. Treat them with tender loving care as if they were the chilli plants you’re trying to grow on your spare room windowsill. You gotta look after them yourself. Personally take it on to wipe away the greenfly of poor user experience, or take a weekend out to make sure it’s being fed with good clean product data.
…..Make it your own
These are just my ways of keeping my job joyful. If I wanted a boring job, I would have stuck with being an accountant. You’ll have other ways of keeping the fun, why not tell me about them?