Time Travel Isn’t Possible… YET.

Myopic Manager: “Hey, I need a video.”

Worker Wendy: (shocked) “About what, sir?”

Myopic Manager: “Something that will get us noticed.”

Worker Wendy: “For what, sir?”

Myopic Manager: “You know. Something catchy and, what’s the word? VIRAL!

Worker Wendy: “Viral, sir?”

Myopic Manager:Yeah! Put it on FaceTube! That’ll do it!”

***

There are so many things wrong with that conversation, I can’t begin to list them. But this was a summarized dialogue a friend of mine recently had with her employer. It seems as though, after 25 years in business, “said employer” finally purchased a ticket to the 21st century and realized he was wearing a suit made in 1989 – you know, padded shoulders, thin, cotton tie… the whole enchilada!

The inspiration for this time-traveling adventure came from a growing collection of customers asking why they couldn’t find their favorite “widget” on the Internet. They couldn’t find their website. They couldn’t “Like” their FaceBook page. Heck, if they didn’t get up off their butts and walk through the door, they couldn’t tell the company was actually still in business!

“So, where do you start?” she asked me. And that’s where my “Mr. Marketing and Branding” persona jumped out – somewhat abruptly…

“Are you kidding?” I shot back at her. “Your company is nowhere near ready for Facebook, YouTube or social media marketing. Why don’t reign in Michael J. Fox over there and start with basic TRUE Branding?”

I explained to her that TRUE Branding was the road-map to where her boss wanted to go. They needed to discover the truth about their company – the who, what, when, where and why of their brand and brand community (‘cause they obviously have one). Then they needed to do some deep research to find out what made their company / brand relevant to their brand community. After that they needed to focus on what made them unique in that community. If there was ten other “widget” makers in the vicinity, what were unique propositions to going to their shop? And finally the needed to figure out where that community spent it’s time engaging their brand. Obviously they needed a stronger Web presence, but were FaceBook and YouTube really going to be where the best engagement would take place?

I’m sure, by the end of our conversation, my face was red and the veins in my forehead resembled what that road-map may look like. But the takeaway was put perfectly when she called up her employer and said, “Sir, we really can’t skip steps when it comes to TRUE Branding and marketing. Let’s take a strategic look at what where we want to go and then my friend Andy can come by and work with us to get there”

*Sigh* 🙂

As Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and Elton John put it, “That’s What Friends Are For.”

I know this comes off as a bit of a rant, but there are a lot of companies out there that are still behind the curve when it comes to social media marketing. It isn’t so much using the tools of social media like Facebook YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn, but the brand and marketing strategy that powers these tools. And it’s going to take time and a lot of thought to get that road-map to the future figured out.

Contrary to what Michel J. Fox and Steven Spielberg told us in 1985, time travel is NOT possible; the flux capacitor hasn’t been built yet; Delorians won’t withstand the pressure of time travel; and Doc Brown is just another wild-eyed pedophile in an Einstein wig and lab coat.

But I digress.

Could I have taken my friend’s company (and their money) and thrown together a FaceBook page and a few videos for YouTube? Sure. But I wouldn’t have been doing my job as The Brand Chef if I did it without TRUE branding and a strategic road-map. And they wouldn’t have seen results from any of it – making us all look stupid.

Just to sum up…  You can’t jump from 1989 to 2010 with the simple activation of a Twitter account. Research, plan, integrate and engage with social media AFTER you’ve figured out where your brand should be going within the marketplace. Then make a commitment to staying up-to-date with your brand, your industry and your community.

Until Next Time (within the next 25 years)

Keep Cooking (timely, relevant branding decisions.)
Andrew B. Clark
The Brand Chef

7 Comments
  1. Brand Chef,

    This article speaks an amazing truth. Talking with businesses who are stuck in time and don’t understand the power and need for ‘branding’ and
    ‘marketing’ on a creative level need more. It would be easy to set something up that won’t work, but why?
    I think many people forget that the tools, which we take for granted in social media are more than are given credit. Yes, they are tools on the internet. Yes, you need to be involved. How involved? That’s up to you and your business, but you need to be there. As you said, many jump the gun and miss the most important step in the process, the strategy. Its the strategy and the plan that’s creates the big picture.

    You can’t know where your going to go, if you don’t know where you are going or where you want to go. Step 1 then step 2.

    Amazing post! I love the concept and you already know I’m on board with you! Thanks for sharing.

    Best,
    Dallas J. Moore

    • Hey Dallas –

      I love social media marketing because it extends and “spices up” the branding solutions I cook up for my partners and clients. But if they’ve been speaking in a language suited for 1989, who out there in “social media land” will have the patience to listen (or wait for them to catch up)? You’re exactly right. The tools DO make the effort easier, but you really need to know how they work WITHIN the overall strategy. And then they can HELP you get there… they won’t magically transport you there like a Delorian with a Flux Capacitor installed… 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      Keep Cooking (and keep it above 88mph)!
      Andrew B. Clark
      The Brand Chef

  2. Amen Brotha!!

  3. Great rant, Chef. The time travel theme reminds me of a hilarious scene in The Big Bang Theory, when Sheldon (top 10 TV character of all time) essentially says, “If I ever invent time travel, I will go back in time to 5 seconds from now.” Then, after his future self fails to appear within 5-10 seconds, he says, “Well, that’s disappointing.”

    This, I feel, is what happens to companies that attempt to prematurely force the social media hand. They ultimately find themselves alone and utterly disappointed.

    • LOL… GENIUS! (But of course, Sheldon knows this.)

      Thanks for stopping by the kitchen, Joe!

      Keep Cooking!
      Andrew B. Clark
      The Brand Chef