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Posted by on May 10, 2013 | 0 comments

Magic is No Kind of Marketing

Magic is No Kind of Marketing

t’s the final scene that really gets you. Of course, by that point the emotional left hook has been building momentum for several minutes. Good old, naive Ray Kinsella listens to Shoeless Joe repeat the line that originally got Ray all fired up at the beginning of the movie: “If you build it, he will come.” Shoeless Joe glances to his right, Ray follows his lead and there is Ray’s long-deceased father, young and vital, another magic product of Ray’s Field of Dreams. The music swells and man-tears swell and even wives have to admit, it’s one fine guy-flick.

For years marketers have used the dialogue from this seminal 1989 Kevin Costner film to highlight the folly of many a new business owner as they’ve invested every last hard-saved penny that they were able to acquire during their corporate life, into the startup of a new entrepreneurial enterprise, only to find that they’ve allocated zero capital for marketing.
This ain’t the movies, we would tell Ray, our good old, naive business owner. Building it isn’t enough, we would say. And magic is no kind of marketing. It’s an investment, we would tell him. You’ve spent all of this money to get your business off the ground. Are you really going to start pinching pennies when it matters most? Then we would drop analogies akin to finding a Frank Lloyd Wright in the middle of the Sahara desert and hope we’d made our point.

Now, these many years later our collective Rays have opened, or are in the process of opening their second location. This time it’s a digital one, an internet storefront that holds all the promise of a magic cornfield and we’re at it again. On any given day, small local businesses are investing thousands – tens of thousands of dollars on their websites, their own personal Mona Lisas that they plan to set to hanging on the information superhighway for all of the world to see.

The difference this time around is that Ray doesn’t need any convincing. In fact, so hungry has Ray been to capitalize on the seemingly imperceptible opportunity within the cornfield that we have small local business owners investing 5 hours per week managing their social media presence, 6 hours per week on a futile attempt at SEO,banging their heads against the monitor as they clean up 142 listing errors, desperately encouraging reviews on the (best?) review site, taking a stab at a YouTube promotional video on iMovie, 3 hours per week trying to keep up with a blog, press releasing, content updating, listening…ah…you get the point.

And who’s to blame Ray? If you listen to the swarm of internet experts calling Ray (an average of 25 cold calls per month) there are exactly three-hundred-eighty-nine perfect paths through the cornfield and each of them lead to a consumer gold mine on the other side. And you know what? Ray has been eating it up.

With a good reputation management program Ray will know how people feel about his cornfield. With effective SEM, his cornfield will be visible when people are looking for it. With targeted banner ads, Ray can create interest in the cornfield.  With SEO, Ray will educate consumers about what a cornfieldreally is. With social media, the people will build the field themselves!

Over the last couple of years, Ray has tried everything. He’s invested thousands of dollars into solutions so sexy, it’s hard to blame him for trying. When James Earl Jones says, “people will come, Ray” it’s worth writing the check.

And following all of that, here we are. Ray’s a little jaded at this point. He’s worked with numerous “experts” over the years, jumping from one thing that really “makes sense” to the other. Internet Experts fresh off of their weekend Google Certification test or with their $49 per month Social Media dashboard. The combination of incomplete knowledge and rapid changes has turned marketing into magic. An illusion. One where we, as marketers are viewed as magicians capable of impressing with the effect, but offering little lingering substance when the show is over.

I watched Field of Dreams the other night and realized as the tears welled up,  there are several things I could help Ray with. Help him prioritize. Clear up a few misconceptions. Create a multiphase strategy. I could lecture Ray that it’s really not about the cornfield at all. Oh, forget it. It’s Saturday night. We’ll leave the marketing for Monday.

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