Everybody Is an Expert

I’ve come to the conclusion that of every seven people you pass in the street, five think they are experts in marketing and feel compelled to thump their chests in public.

What possesses them? Perhaps a genie has popped out of a dim 40-watt lamp to proclaim: “You’re an expert, so write marketing advice. Some publication will use it and you’ll be regarded with awe.”

I say this because I’m looking at a marketing magazine in whose pages are two columns by “experts,” both centering on the hot medium of the year, the World Wide Web.

As a fellow expert, scheduled to blather about that very subject at AWAI’s 2009 Bootcamp, I object to the opinions these guys are discharging, labeled as authoritarian advice.

Get this:

“The subject line should be a ‘grabber.’”

Gee, I never knew that. Until I read this pearl of wisdom, I thought the subject line should be dull and flat. What a revelation!

Now understand, please: I’m not talking about a marketing publication aimed at eighth-graders attending a special school for those with IQs under 80. This one is aimed squarely at you and me, and we deserve useful information from those who, if not genuine authorities, can at least lay claim to belonging to our peer group.

But that was just the opening salvo, fired from a pistol that at best blows bubbles. Here’s another gem (a rhinestone) from one of the magazine’s experts:

“The thrust should be relevant to the reader.”

Once again, I couldn’t resist a “Wow! The eye opener of the day!” reaction.

How could I not have read this before? I always thought the thrust should be irrelevant. Nuts! In my innocent ignorance, I’d been constructing sales messages all wrong!

What really makes me shake my head in disbelief is that any editor, managing any professional publication, would open his pages to such drivel.

Why am I making such a point of this, when every reader of these words has had parallel experiences?

Because I was, am, and anticipate always being capable of transmitting information my fellow marketers will not only regard as useful but as marketing weaponry they haven’t brandished before.

Now that I have your attention …

You’ve read this far.

That puts me one up on most of the experts clamoring to be heard. So I’d better make the rest of what I want to share with you worthwhile.

And what’s more worthwhile than controversy?

If you happen to sit in on my session at AWAI’s 2009 Bootcamp, you’ll be exposed to plenty of controversial comments and examples.

One area we’ll discuss will be “social media” vs. conventional Web marketing.

(An indication of how we’ve rocketed through Future Shock and emerged, battered but still battling, on the far edge: Google, without which we’d still be in the Dark Ages, is only a dozen years old and already has become the informational bulwark against which such challengers as Bing flail like Don Quixote tilting at a windmill.)

The question: Do Facebook and MySpace and LinkedIn and Twitter and Plaxo really compete with old dependable email on equal terms?

A more valid question tweaks the one just asked: Can Facebook and MySpace and LinkedIn and Twitter and Plaxo really compete on equal terms?

Opinion: Well, no, to both questions. We already have been exposed to exposés ridiculing commercial enterprises that have attempted to mount marketing campaigns by Tweeting or Facebooking. Social media are two-edged swords, and once a marketer takes his or her hands off the steering wheel, a crash is as likely as a safe journey to the destination.

Of course, you’re free to argue. Of course, you’re free to wave a counter-example or two in my face. And, of course, another medium – maybe a hybrid – may spring up from the always-fertile trading turf we regard as our backyard.

Sigh.

Want an expert marketing tip that will save money and make money? Easy. Avoid these two words: available and submit. Now, doesn’t that prove how little brainpower and communicative talent you need to be a self-labeled “expert”?

I guess this mini-tirade helps prove the point I made when I began this tirade: Of any group of seven people, five consider themselves to be marketing experts.

Okay. I’m in. Now just pick four of the next six people you pass on the street.

Or make it three of the next five, because obviously you’re an expert yourself or you wouldn’t be reading this.

[Ed Note: Herschell Gordon Lewis is by far one of the most popular Bootcamp speakers – among attendees, his fellow presenters, and the AWAI staff. Aside from being extremely generous with his experience, and full of insights relevant to the hottest areas in the industry, his personality lights up the room, year after year.]

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The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: August 10, 2009

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