“You can do anything that you think that you can do. You just need to believe in yourself, formulate a plan of action, and follow through with it”. These were the wise words I started my day with this morning, shared by a young man in the hilarious video below. Hilarious, and apart from the obvious happy clappy feel good vibe of the title, there is another lesson that can be learned. So watch the video, and take a walk with me.

Now self – belief is great. BBC Reporter Chris Icke claims that humanity is actually under the control of dinosauroid-like alien reptiles who must consume human blood to maintain their human appearance. Now I think he is insane, and no matter how good his plan is, or how well he follows through with it, he’s in for a lizard-free disappointment. But he has 42 followers on his Facebook page, (worthy of a whole other blog) and as far as I can ascertain has done no more harm than convincing 42 poor other souls that Dino from the Flintstones is running the grand show we call life.  But I digress.

What struck a cord with me this morning wasn’t self-belief or goal setting. Rather the video demonstrated how easy it is to become attached to a strategy, and how hard it is sometimes to adapt it, even when the current plan of attack so obviously isn’t working. As marketers, the goals we are set are as varied as the brands there are out there to manage. Grow penetration, increase trial, build loyalty. Launch a brand, launch a variant, enter a new market. Research agencies define how our brands are viewed by consumers, what attributes tug the heart-strings and which go unnoticed. Our training provides us with the insight required to determine a strategy, and our experience (or the experience of others) dictates the tools we’ll use to accomplish our goals.

Great theory for marketing 101. Conventional media is still preferred by many big brands for it’s interruption quality, even though we know that their effectiveness is dwindling by the day. Consumers of today tune out unwanted messages like bad karaoke. Shout for as long and as loud as you want but unless you have something relevant to say, you may as well be invisible. Web changed things up a little, but many marketers saw it as just another place to put up a banner, and effectively they used old plans on a new channel. They kept hitting themselves on the head.

Now throw in the rise of social media and all of a sudden you really have set things a flutter. Social media is not a channel for broadcast. Its a channel for conversation, and this requires a completely new type of plan from brand managers. First of all you have to be listening to what is being said about your brand on social media (and trust me, things are being said). And second, you have to be set-up to respond to what you are hearing in a tone that matches that of the consumers that surround your brand. Be relevant, be engaging, be rewarding.

Marketing Guru Seth Godin has a little to say on the plan part, and how one could go about breaking your own piece of wood. He sees all people fitting into a spectrum starting with strangers to your brand, and running right through to true fans.

To paraphrase Master Godin, marketers love strangers. More people means more sales means more profit. And a lot of money is spent talking to the edge of the spectrum because it takes a lot of money to convert and convince strangers. And maybe this is your way of breaking the plank of wood. Expensive, hard, uncomfortable and slow, but you get it done in the end. You may upset some of your true fans though, and they’re worth a whole lot more to you than strangers. There is another way. “Instead of spending R1 million converting 100 people @ R10 000 each why not spend R1000 delighting and overwhelming your 1000 most die hard true fans” Show some love to those that love you most.

Self-belief, check. Goal, check. Plan of action – pop in for a chat.