How 'Bewitched' lied to me about marketing

Three tips for marketing in today's big data world

Justin Schroepfer | Director of Marketing, DDM | February 1, 2016

I grew up in the days when life was simple. There were only a few TV stations that you could watch, and the Internet was just a glimmer in Al Gore’s eyes. So throughout my youth, I spent time watching reruns of iconic shows like "Gilligan’s Island," "The Andy Griffith Show," and one of my favorites "Bewitched."

For most people, "Bewitched" was only a whimsical comedy about a beautiful witch trying to pose as a normal suburban housewife with an endearing husband, Darrin. However, for this kid, "Bewitched" was more than just a show that preceded the soap operas in the afternoon. It provided me with a vision of my future life. You see, I was fascinated with Darrin Stephens’ career.

I watched with great interest as he developed amazing ad campaigns for supersophisticated products like tuna fish and kitty litter. He would present masterful concepts on display poster boards featuring catchy headlines and win the acclaims of the client and gratitude from his pessimistic boss, Larry (Seriously, what was up with that guy?).

Right then and there I knew what I wanted to do in life. I wanted to be a marketer. What I couldn’t foresee was how different the marketing world would be when I hit the scene.

Shortly after I graduated college with my marketing degree, I entered the workforce with endless hope and excitement. However, I quickly realized that this was no "Bewitched" world and thought, “I can’t believe Darrin Stephens lied to me! Why am I not presenting a catchy jingle for chewing gum? What are all these spreadsheets I have to deal with, and why am I continually hammered with questions about this thing called ROI?”

Well, it was apparent I had to adapt to this new world of marketing. And over the years, I learned a few things that helped me be a more effective marketer in a post-Bewitched world.

Tip 1: Become a story teller – a data story-teller

Ever since those little smartphones made their way into every pocket and purse in America, the marketer’s world has turned upside down. We are now gathering insight on our consumers that just a decade ago looked like a pipe dream. As a result, we are now dealing with waves of data that continually roll over us. We even came up with a fancy buzzword a few years ago to describe this movement: Big Data. Not “Above-Average-Size Data.” We’re talking big, gigantic, behemoth data.

Now data is, or should be, at the center of every marketer’s world. But utilizing all this data consists more than just showing some colorful charts or reporting on your most recent click-through rate. There’s a story behind that data, and good marketers know how to discover and tell that story.

Every month, my team gathers data from the various channels and analytics reports. And every month, we ask myriad questions about the data they collect. Why did our organic search traffic go up by 12 percent last month? What level of impact did that new piece of content have in our syndication channels? If our mobile traffic is now 63 percent of total traffic, how is that affecting our customer engagement?

There’s a story to be told: stories that explain what truly is happening behind the numbers. Make sure that you and your team are always asking questions about the data. What you learn will help you become an expert on your consumer’s behavior. The marketer who knows the most about the customer generally wins.

Tip 2: Remember, just breathe

We’ve all seen that graphic at conferences illustrating the explosion of the marketing channel landscape. Fitting all the logos from the different marketing solutions into on graphic makes them so small that it starts to look like one of those posters where if you stare long enough, a 3-D image starts to appear. “Is that Guy Kawasaki’s face that I see?”

Look, there are those marketers who are seemingly addressing all those channels at the same time and are considered multitasking gods. But sometimes trying to tackle everything at the same time is not the best approach and is unrealistic for many.

In 2013, Brandon Shin wrote an article where he cites research conducted by Stanford professor Clifford Nass, who extensively studied brain patterns and behaviors of multitaskers. In the end, Nass showed how this group’s approach sacrificed quality in hopes of quantity and ultimately lost both.

Given that there are so many channels and options available to marketers, sometimes you just need to sit back and take a breath. Carefully consider the initiative that will have the biggest impact on the business and then attack that one initiative. It’s OK to use a “focus and finish” method from time to time. After you achieve what you set out to do, that sense of accomplishment will reenergize you so you can tackle the myriad other things competing for your attention.

Tip 3: Don’t do it all by yourself

As mentioned in the previous tip, there is a vast marketing world to take on. Trying to do it all on your own can overwhelm even the most capable marketer. A frustrated marketer is usually an ineffective marketer.

I’ll be honest, I am not a social media guru. I’m not on Facebook every five minutes to see that my neighbor’s kid scored three goals in her most recent soccer game. I don’t Instagram that I had a chicken quesadilla for lunch. And I certainly have a hard time staying on top of all the new social media tools that seem to come out on a daily basis.

I came to the conclusion that I was probably not meant to be a social media expert. I humbled myself, acknowledged my shortcomings and hired people on my team who have a passion for social media. Now I find myself more productive by relying on these channel experts.

Consider building a team that includes roles focusing on specific marketing channels like social media, content marketing or that ol’ reliable email channel. Collectively as a team, you’ll be able to cover more ground and be better positioned to stay on top of the world as it evolves.

As a marketing team leader, it’s OK to admit you are not an expert with every marketing channel. Say it with me, “I don’t know everything, and that’s OK.” The best leaders I have worked with are not those that have the highest IQ. They are the leaders that surround themselves with smart people and provide them with the opportunities to do smart things.

I’m sure that there are many of you out there who read this article and thought, “No, duh! Of course, we should do these things.” But you would be surprised on how the most obvious solutions fail to be put into action. I’ve been in the marketing world for almost 20 years and I still find that I have to recalibrate from time to time and make sure I focus on those best practices. I may not be the best marketer around, but I do know that if Darrin Stephens were in today’s marketing world, I’d run circles around him.