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Smartphones, tablets, Foursquare, Quora, Colour, Google+… what is it this week? Whatever it is, if it’s new, marketers will be all over it like a cheap suit.
Here are ten reasons why...
- New things are exciting. Old things are not exciting. Humans are pleasure-seeking by nature. And marketers are human – at least technically.
- Marketers live in a self-absorbed world where every practitioner is also an observer. So every new thing is absurdly over-analysed, hyped and magnified. Even though the buzz is self-perpetuating and self-fulfilling, it’s hard to ignore.
- Rapidly adopting a new thing means you can position yourself as forward-thinking and innovative, perhaps achieving a competitive advantage (in clients’ eyes at least).
- Even though many new things fail, it takes major cojones to come out for old, established things. In an industry where youth and novelty are prized above all else, to favour the old over the new is to risk looking scared of change.
- Early-stage stats lie. If four people use a site one week, and 36 sign up the next, you can point to a 1000% increase. That’s exponential! Get on board quick! (Later, more disappointing stats emerge, like 68% of Twitter accounts being dormant.)
- If clients can be persuaded that the new thing represents a genuine addition rather than a dilution or a fragmentation, there will be an opportunity to charge them more for doing the new thing. (Savvy clients will reason that audience attention is finite, and cut their coat according to that cloth.)
- By definition, less is known about a new thing than an old thing. So novel marketing tasks can be delegated to younger (cheaper) staff, whose inexperience will not hamper them. Clients will pay for them to learn on the job.
- By the same token, it is possible to ascend to ‘guru’ status very quickly if nobody knows very much about the new thing. In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.
- Old things have proven, established principles, which clients are unfortunately in a position to learn about, allowing them to evaluate and question the marketer’s work. New things bring a blissful freedom from rules, analysis and accountability – just make it up as you go along.
- Change means churn in terms of people, teams and companies. The grass is always greener, so younger marketers reason that they probably have more to gain from change than from the status quo.
The point of all this is that none of these points relate to the known commercial effectiveness of new things, or the benefit they might offer clients.
Very often, it would be better for clients to wait and secure ‘fast follower’ advantage when a new marketing channel or technique appears – learning from others’ mistakes. But who’s going to tell them to do that?