Bad Advice Yelled Loudly Is Still Bad Advice

July 29, 2010
By Lisa Barone in Online Marketing

Earlier this week Forrester and AdAge combined to give you some really bad advice. I’m here to make sure you don’t listen. And to encourage you to do the opposite.

On Monday AdAge commented on the recent Forrester survey that found just 4 percent of US online adults have used location based mobile applications, with 84 percent of respondents saying they were unaware such apps ever existed. Forrester analyst Melissa Parrish declared (and followed up) that, unless you’re targeting affluent men between the ages of 19 and 35, you don’t belong on FourSquare. You should forgo all testing on location-based marketing applications and wait for them to gain more share. Now, please take your club and head back into your cave.

If it’s okay with the kind folks at Forrester and AdAge, I’ll stay exactly where I am. Thanks.

The numbers behind Forrester’s study aren’t particularly shocking. Yes, they’re currently very low. I’d expect them to be low. We’re talking about new platforms that marketers aren’t sure how to use just yet. But as a marketer you should be able to cut through the hype to find the potential opportunity. Right now is your chance to get into the location-based marketing game before it becomes overcrowded and filled with elbows.

Because it doesn’t matter what we’re talking about – if you sit back early on and wait for the ship to fill up, don’t be surprised when that ship leaves your ass at the dock.

I’m not going to lie, it seems absolutely ridiculous to me that anyone in this space would advise marketers take a “sit and wait” approach to any new marketing application. It ludicrous that an analyst at a respected company would decide to ignore an area being populated by vocal trendsetters. Wasn’t it the same early adopter demographic that started using Twitter 3-4 years ago? Hell, wasn’t that the same demographic that was first on the Web? How much would you pay to go back and have hopped on those services earlier?

Where would you be now if you could have experimented with Twitter before it became overcrowded and a sea of noise? What kinds of chances could you have taken?

The fast and unexpected nature of the Web is why we so often encourage clients to secure their brand on new sites NOW. You never know what’s going to be the next Twitter. You never know what’s going to pop. The only defense you have is to claim your space and figure out the game before everyone else does.

No one would advise moving your entire budget over to location-based apps like FourSquare, but if you plan on competing tomorrow, you have to start training today. That means trying them out so you can decide if they’re worth it and trim down to your fighting weight.

Find out:

  • What opportunities are available to your brand RIGHT NOW with location-based marketing?
  • What opportunities could be available in 3 months time? 6 months?
  • How are other brands trying to find success…how could that be applicable to what you do?
  • What is the cost of waiting? Why are you waiting? [Fear of ‘doing it wrong’ is not a reason]

It’s completely possible that location-based applications are worthless to your brand. But that’s something you should find out now while the cost of experimenting is minimal. One thing I’m always trying to become better at is failing early. I’d rather fail early with a small group then sit back for three months to fail with more eyes watching me. At least with the first method, you have time to tweak and get back in the game. If you wait, you may miss your chance altogether.

What bothered me about the AdAge article wasn’t that they were encouraging marketers to hold back on location-based marketing. It was that it reemphasizes the mindset that it’s okay to sit on your hands and wait.

  • You can wait to start that blog.
  • You can wait to create your Web site.
  • You can wait to get involved in social media, to build that email campaign, to start your business.

No, you can’t. Not if you’re trying to be successful.

Sitting back and waiting is rarely the right approach to anything, regardless of whether we’re talking about business, finding a spouse or losing weight. The earlier you get in, the more opportunity you have to succeed and to make something happen.

There’s a difference between hopping in haphazardly and waiting for permission to enter or for someone to give you a rulebook. If you wait for the numbers to be “just right”, you’ll never do or accomplish anything. It’s always too soon to know for sure and not even the most respected analysts can feed you the right answers. You have to do your research and decide when it’s time to jump by yourself.

What do you want to do that you’re waiting on? What are you waiting for?

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