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September 25, 2007

Jack Covert Selects: Do It Wrong Quickly - Marketing in the Age of the Web

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 2:30 PM – Filed under: Innovation & Creativity, Marketing & Sales, Publishing Industry

A little background...Pearson, a major international publisher of educational and resource materials, puts out some of the best books on Internet marketing, technology support, and learning HTML and multimedia software. (And they're not paying me to say so.) You've probably seen Pearson's many imprints on your resource books -- IBM Press, Financial Times, Prentice Hall, Peachpit Press, Longman, and Wharton, among many others. Peachpit's Quickstart guides, for example, give non-technicians the basic tools to make heads or tails of programs once mastered exclusively by programmers and graphic designers. As much of our creative work becomes do-it-yourself or stays in-house, it's almost necessary to start a reference library. Over the next few months I'd like to recommend a few titles to get you started.
As we're thinking about ways to expand our online presence, Todd and I have been talking a lot about the best ways to approach new projects. It used to be that we decided to do something--print a new brochure, redesign a web site, incorporate a new technology--and then presented a plan to a designer. There might be some initial back-and-forth about needs and goals, but what the designer came back with in the end was essentially a finished product. We had to be sure we knew exactly what we wanted before we asked (and paid) for it. Today, though, there's a lot of wiggle room. Especially online, we can try and fail at something new without taking a significant hit (or any at all, sometimes).
A few weeks ago Todd wrote about a book called Super Crunchers by Ian Ayres:
https://800ceoread.com/blog/archives/007328.html.

It was also featured in Jack Covert Selects in August:
https://800ceoread.com/blog/archives/007292.html.

One point Ayres makes in Super Crunchers is that by applying randomization, we can learn a lot about our customers/users' needs and preferences--a lot more than we could know by traditional trial and error.
This week I opened up Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules (IBM Press). The subtitle might make you think "Um, where have you been?" but the author, Mike Moran, actually gets at something close to what Ayres talks about in Super Crunchers. Using a bow-and-arrow analogy, Moran suggests that the archer with three arrows has a higher chance of success than the archer with one. In other words, it's great if your shot in the dark hits the bull's eye, but chances are it won't every time. On the other hand, if you take three shots at the same time, you might not hit the bull's eye, but you'll score more points--and learn more along the way.
I'm probably not doing justice to the author's message, here, but I think that the important thing to take away is that it no longer makes sense to expect that even a carefully thought-through, well-executed marketing campaign will hit the target in today's world. In fact, Moran believes that the new marketing means getting away from the plan-then-execute approach, and starting to try lots of approaches at the same time. In addition to systematic ways of assessing your online marketing (conversions, metrics), you have to listen better to your customers. He talks about the social media phenomenon, incorporating multi-media approaches in your message, and creating deeper relationships with your customers by engaging them in a conversation.
As Moran puts it, "whether change gets your blood pumping or leaves you in a pool of sweat, marketing is undergoing a revolution more profound than any of us are likely to see the rest of our lives." Do It Wrong Quickly is a friendly invitation to that revolution.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.