hypocritical : talking the talk without walking the walk

February 25, 2005

Can versus should

As the wise ones are always saying, there is a big difference between can and should. And nowhere do we run into that more often than the world of marketing.

Unfortunately, marketers are often the target of this kind of can versus should mindset. Practically everyone in the organization generally thinks they can "do marketing." And they probably can form some type of communication. But should that communication be shown to anyone, let alone be used to represent a company and product? The answer, more often than not, is no.

So one would think that the marketing types would be the last ones to fall for the can versus should naÔvetť. Yet we do.

Hypocritical is a perfect example. Iíd like to think the thoughts are solid, the writing is halfway decent, and the design is tolerable, if not usable. I do it all myself. Now, mind you, hypocritical is a personal blog. It is not a company. It is a product, but itís a free product. And, you get what you pay for.

But, as of late, Iíve been encountering more and more marketing sites that just donít live up to the hype. Usually, I come across these sites after reading an extremely literate, sometimes borderline genius, article in a marketing pub. Excitedly, I rush out the Web site listed in the bio to findÖ What in the name of all that is holy is this thing? You proffer knowledge on how to do something on the Web, you seem to know what youíre talking about, and your Web site looks like this? What is wrong with you?

The most deflating part of this experience is the fact that it makes me question the very expertise I had, only seconds prior, appreciated beyond all reproach. Yet, because of the design on the Web or something else, my mind begins to twist. I cannot separate form from function. Itís almost predictable: Wow. Great ideas. Let me go to the site. What the? Wait, I must have typed the URL incorrectly. Let me go back. Iím just going to click on the link. Hmmm. Same place. This canít be right. They must have made a mistake with the URL. No, wait. This is the person who wrote that article. How can that be? This is almost exactly what they said not to do. Why would they do that?

Long story short, poor Web design (or listing a URL to a non-existent site) makes me question your intelligence. Iím sorry, but it does. And looking at the Web design on hypocritical (if youíre anything like me), you started questioning my intelligence, long, long ago. But, thatís okay. In fact, Iíll let you in on a little secret. (Looks left, looks right.) Come closer. This is just between you and me, but... Thatís why itís called "hypocritical." Get it?

So, to marketers and non-marketers alikeóespecially those that are doing work for a business or running their own consulting firm or just looking to raise their profileómy advice is this: play to your strengths; team to cover your weaknesses.

Iím a dumb jock. Through and through. Meat-h-e-a-d. So most of my analogies tend to lean toward a sporting metaphor. Hereís one of those examples: I played goalie in lacrosse and soccer. I was a decent goalie and I enjoyed playing the position because it offered a great deal of freedom. I have a hard time not ad libbing. Our teams had their share of victories, a couple of championships. I was on some very good teams. That said, how many goals did score during my time on those teams? 0. What? How is that possible? How could there be victory?

I think you get my point. Do what you do. Do it well. Ask for help on everything else. Donít skimp. If you are brilliant in terms of strategy, but canít write your way out of a paper bag, then podcast. If youíre an awe-inspiring Web designer, make the design do the work. If youíre an incredible writer, give the words center stage. THEN, find someone else to help you cover your weaknesses. Sure sure, you could do it yourself, but really, should you? Would you recommend that a client do that?

But that costs money, you say. So spend money. Or better yet, barter services. You, good designer, go to talk that that person, the killer copywriter. You, search-engine optimization guru, go work with back-end architecture genius. Quit trying to think you can do everything on your own. You canít. No matter how smart you are. You canít. And if youíre running a business that way, you shouldnít.

Thanks for reading. You not only can comment, but you should. And you should also return, when you have time.


Can versus should
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