Sunday, December 5, 2010

Communists, Engineers and Social Media (part two)

Before making the move to consulting, I worked for a non-profit comprised primarily of engineers with a few marketers and a few engineers who wanted to dabble in marketing. To be honest, some of the engineers had great ideas and brought a useful degree of discipline to most of our projects. But some engineers just could not make the jump from engineering to marketing.  

One of my biggest on-going battles was with social media marketing. The marketing professionals on our team knew that social media marketing was the up-and-coming trend. They were all for funding social media marketing projects. The problem came from my board of directors, comprised almost entirely of engineers.

Knowing well the level of detail required to make my board comfortable with the success being achieved by marketing projects, I reported some pretty compelling metrics.   

YouTube, in particular, was yielding some great results. Compared to similar videos (for example, the YouTube videos being posted by a Fortune 100 company on our board of directors), we were a "run away success." (In the interest of full disclosure, I am only talking about 1,500 hits a year, not a viral success in YouTube terms. However...) We were getting twice as many hits per month as the Fortune 100 company was getting in a whole quarter. Additionally, we were reaching people in over 40 countries and in almost every state in the USA. We were getting plenty of positive comments and even a few decent questions. Our long standing desire to reach out to the end consumer, and to educate them on the benefits of our technology, was being achieved.

I requested approval to start promoting the videos to drive traffic. To my astonishment, I was told to cease and desist.  Even after reporting some very positive feedback from a respected marketing consultant, my board continued to discourage me from posting new content.  

The reason? "No one should be going to YouTube for technical information."

OK, I laid the facts out. Engineers are supposed to be governed by facts. We were being successful by every metric. Still, it did not fit within a reality they could accept. Things were not supposed to work this way. Rather than seeing that we could go to where the people are looking and provide accurate information, they felt that we were encouraging people to look for information in the wrong place. 

Just like facts were ineffective with the Romanian judge,  facts are not going to be enough to win all your battles in the workplace. Engineers and C-level executives are supposed to be influenced by facts but if the facts make them uncomfortable, expect resistance. They are missing the point and you will need to help them see the validity and value of a new reality.

We will dig into that in future posts. 

James Snider is a marketing consultant, responsible for developing the 3.4 billion dollar 1394/FireWire market. James has over 16 years of marketing experience with 7 years working for Fortune 100 companies, 8 years as executive director of a non-profit and, since the summer of 2009, as a strategic business development consultant.

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