SmoothSpan Blog

For Executives, Entrepreneurs, and other Digerati who need to know about SaaS and Web 2.0.

How Do We Say, “I Have No Friggin’ Idea”, And Still Sound Smart?

Posted by Bob Warfield on November 19, 2007

Evidently the 5 big questions some marketing types have about Social Computing are:

  1. Does it integrate with our existing marketing strategy?
  2. Does it build our brand?
  3. Does it drive profitable business results?
  4. Can we measure it?
  5. Will it scale?

Am I the only one that read that and felt like if those were the best questions one could ask clearly it meant someone had no idea what they were dealing with?  You hear this kind of well-intentioned hand wringing from stodgy CxO types all the time.  These are the moral equivalent of presenting the CEO with the next great business idea and hearing him come back with, “But will it make us money?”  He doesn’t care to understand the idea, only it’s consequences.  But do you ever really understand the consequences if you don’t understand the idea?  This is the sound of water running like the Niagara Falls through the Chasm.  It’s loud, and it’s scary.  There is a lot of violence in the Chasm.  Crossing the Chasm is usually presented as a problem for the entrepreneur, but there is a different Chasm.  The one I’m speaking of here is even scarier.  It is the Old School failing to keep up with powerful new disruptive forces.  It is the use of the Chasm as a competitive weapon where those on the right side of it have huge competitive advantage over those who are afraid to cross.

If companies can’t depend on their marketing to boldly explore the other side of any disruptive Chasm, who can they count on?  Instead of those bland 5 questions, how about asking these:

1. How should we be changing our existing marketing strategy to deal with an increasingly Web 2.0 world?  What is the competition doing with these new channels and what are the dangers they’ll steal an important advantage on us?  Do we have the right people and talent on board to even understand how to proceed? 

2. How do we leverage Social Computing to build brand?  How has brand building fundamentally changed while we’ve stuck to our traditonal knitting?  How did Google and Facebook get ahead of us so quickly with their brands?  Do we understand viral branding on the web? 

3.  How can we shift marketing from tired old channels to new strategies and save money to increase profitability?  Why are we spending so much money on old style marketing that is hard to measure and hard to associate with real business results.

4.  Now that we can measure what’s happening with programs on the web, how do we use those measurements to drive results?

5.  How fast can we scale our own understanding and expertise in these new messaging channels to get ahead of our competition without getting bogged down on execution?

Beware the Chasm.  It cuts both ways.

4 Responses to “How Do We Say, “I Have No Friggin’ Idea”, And Still Sound Smart?”

  1. Brilliant! something i live with on a daily basis!

  2. Peter Kim said

    Hello Bob:

    I guest posted the content you found on Rohit’s blog. Contrary to your rhetorical question, I do believe that I have a very good idea of what I’m talking about here. Feel free to visit me directly to continue the conversation.

    Peter Kim

  3. smoothspan said

    Congratulations Peter, I hope so given your title!

    Looking forward to seeing some posts on “BeingPeterKim” that go into more depth.



  4. […] at Smoothspan, Bob posted this excellent post looking at CxO’s failure to understand social computing and to throw the concept back to […]

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