Office instant chat tools are profoundly changing the rules of professional communication… and we’re not quite sure how.
Two recent FastCompany articles highlight Slack’s unpredictable and fascinating impact on marketing tech startups like Vidyard and Buffer.
Michael Litt, the CEO of Vidyard, thinks that tools like Slack are mostly a positive innovation, but says that the, “best thing [he] can do to manage the impact of instant chat on [his] company is to take a relatively hands-off approach.”
The best thing I can do to manage the impact of instant chat on my company is to take a relatively hands-off approach.
Meanwhile Kevan Lee, the Marketing Director at Buffer says that his team’s “Slack-Free Fridays” experiment made them stop and question the very nature of synchronous and asynchronous communication.
Both stories share some interesting insights into workplace communication, but they also highlight how inconsistent we marketers can be about the value of real-time things.
That leads us to this week’s topic: real-time marketing.
Real-time is one of buzziest of buzzwords in marketing. If you want to grow as a company, you need real-time.
You need real-time communication so you can orchestrate your company’s efforts across all projects and teams instantly.
You need real-time metrics so you can adjust all of your campaigns at a moment’s notice and beat Google Ads on hard mode.
You need real-time web monitoring tools to spot every mention of your brand the instant it gets published below the fold on a third-rate blog because that’s the one that’ll contain the insight that will make your brand the market leader.
We’ve been peddled the value of real-time for so long now that many marketers have become nothing more than notification junkies, just chasing the dragons that are those little numbered red-and-white pill-like notifications on our phone and never even think about the consequences.
So what should you do if you want to go through real-time rehab? The first step, as always, is admitting you have a problem. Here are 3 signs of real-time addiction that you should look for if you want to get all the benefits of synchronicity without any of the side-effects.
First, don’t get into the habit of setting real-time company goals. In the best-selling book, Good to Great, author Jim Collins describes what he calls the Hedgehog Concept.
He says that a company’s entire strategy sits at the intersection of what the founders are passionate about, what the company can be the world’s best at, and what can be the source of their economic engine.
Too many startups pivot at the exact moment when they should persevere and even giants like Yahoo! reinvented itself so many times that it finally had to be sold off for parts to Verizon.
Frequently changing your objectives is sure fire way to burn through a pile of money and is certainly one of the worst real-time habits.
Second, don’t get into the habit of spending money on real-time that doesn’t make you money.
Yes, it’s amazing to be able to see what someone is reading on your blog right now, but how does that help you be a better marketer overall?
Now, there are some ROI-positive applications of real-time marketing tools like testing whether your tracking scripts are firing and helping your sales team improve their speed-to-lead numbers.
But many of these tools are just dopamine faucets that we end up revisiting throughout the day because we just gotta have ourselves some of that sweet, sweet real-time brown sugar.
If you want to avoid real-time bad habit number two, make sure your investments in synchronous tools help generate more revenue, regardless of their novelty.
And for our third and final real-time bad habit, don’t create real-time culture.
A company’s values are inherited directly from its leaders, plain and simple.
And yet, some think culture is a choice that can be made on the fly and that you can implement real-time social norms or standards to try to shift the nature of the company.
Today we’re a one pizza team, but starting Monday we will be a two pizza team. And the week after that, we’ll probably try out Soylent Scrums.
In reality, if there’s something amiss with the company culture, it represents a problem with leadership, not the pizza-to-team ratio. Plus, you should always just order more pizza in case more people show up. It’s just proper hosting.
Companies that use the cultural tactic de ‘jour as a real-time remedy for greater existential leadership issues will continue to flounder and almost lose their best talent to companies who understand how to play to strengths of their leaders.
So please… go out there and enjoy your real-time tools and tactics… just do so responsibly and try not to develop any bad habits.
And that’s how you can fix marketing.