Where Did My Heroes Go?

Several years ago, I traveled the search engine and online marketing trade show circuits and made friends with some very smart people in the space. Over time I was able to weed out those who simply were part of the marketing echo chamber (a great majority of the so-called “rockstars” fit this category) and others who really really thought for themselves, citing real data and experiences and developing notions and strategies that could and should be implemented. The latter group I would call my marketing heroes.

Over time my heroes’ value to businesses has grown to the point where they are now getting hired by Fortune 100 companies more than not. But this has ruined them for me. Back in the day, they were a God-send for small and mid-size businesses (SMBs). They were immersed in the SMB world and had great empathy for their needs and requirements. Unlimited budgets weren’t part of that paradigm.

Now many of these heroes of mine are writing articles and blogging about much more philosophical topics and less about pragmatic effective strategies to be implemented on the cheap. But there are two exceptions to this worth pointing out. 

John Jantsch and David Meerman Scott continue to plow ahead with, as I called it before, “pragmatic effective strategies to be implemented on the cheap.” While David has recently traveled to places like Turkey, Pakistan, Argentina and Egypt with his “new rules of marketing and PR” message, that message and his way of communicating has remained relevant. And while John is approaching his 30th year preaching sane marketing strategies to SMBs under the label, “Duct Tape Marketing,” he continues to remain very relevant.

Back in my programming and product development days, we used a couple terms, “feature bloat” and “product drift.” They defined how, for the sake of growing and moving forward, products and projects could find themselves irrelevant as we tried to make them more and more useful and feature-filled over time. Without customer involvement and feedback in the development process we would add what we thought were new and better features that actually only served to “sour the milk” for our customers. When that would happen, we were giving them a reason to consider other options (our competition).

These are all important concepts to consider in your business. Does your target audience still find you as valuable as they did a few years ago? Did you lose them along the way? Think back over changes you have made to your way of doing business, products carried and ways of providing customer service. How many of these did you do because you saw value and how many did you do because your customers saw value?