It was about two-thirds of the way through the digital marketing conference SearchLove Boston that I realized its theme. Its theme, at least, from everything I had heard and seen.

There on screen, in a presentation on building a purpose-driven brand, was the word I’d been looking for: change.

"Businesses are challenged with unrelenting change"
- Mack Fogelson, CEO of Genuinely

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Much like Bynder, this SearchLove had a unique feel that was part European, part American. Boston venue, Seattle coffee, British-hosted and speakers from the U.S., Finland, and Germany. I met plenty of people from the Boston area and greater U.S., and even one fellow marketer attending from Australia as part of his “holiday”.

People from all over seemed to be in agreement that the digital marketing landscape is changing in a pretty dramatic way. That’s good to know, and perhaps a little frightening, but what are we to do as the world around us changes? The common thread among speakers seemed to be this: change along with the landscape. Change what we do and how we think. Then track those changes systematically in the form of testing and research, and learn from those changes. That way, our marketing strategies of tomorrow will be better than those of today, and will stand a chance in an uncertain landscape. Here are a few ways in which that general idea was articulated:

  • Great ideas aren’t enough, we need great processes in place to bring them to life
  • Why do we only measure outcomes, like engagement? Measuring the work itself tells a more complete story, and might make us better faster
  • Content does not suffice, brands need to tell compelling stories showcasing their authenticity and purpose
  • Understanding the person is paramount, but only happens via technology
  • The entire concept of search will be different in five years. Testing and learning now will be the best preparation for those dramatic changes.

Change the Process

Great marketing ideas pop up all the time, but Wil Reynolds wants more of those ideas to come to life. He warned the crowd that the path to this is not sexy; it comes with the use of frameworks, definitions, and processes. These are the “perspiration” elements, the counterpart to “inspiration”.

The benefits of a framework, such as Wil’s ‘Content Idea Scorecard’, have some of the following benefits:

  • More known opportunities and risks upfront
  • Content validity judged based on mutually agreed-upon factors, not a single opinion
  • The process is not reliant on a single person
  • More data points to measure against—not just end results, like “leads”—but
  • Input data points like “this score generated x more leads than that score”.

Change What Is Measured

My mind was racing after Wil had suggested that to do something great, we must first go through the boring process of putting great frameworks in place. Rand Fishkin did not make life any easier.

Central in Rand’s talk was the idea that marketers claim to measure “everything”, but in actuality a lot of organizations are only measuring outcomes: leads, sales, likes, reads, etc.

He introduced his FitBit as an example. The main measurement is not outcome (weight loss), but the work itself (steps per day). Measuring in this way is empowering, achievable, and eventually becomes actionable. For content marketing, Rand’s company Moz ran tests on blog posting frequency (the work) and eventually could compare that to the outcomes. Wouldn’t you like to know the threshold at which increasing resources no longer makes an impact? Learnings like these can improve marketing from the process level, and can better anticipate what creates successful outcomes.

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Grounded in the philosophy that if you fall in love with the process, you’ll eventually love the results, Rand’s only advice was imploring the crowd to go measure the “work” more meticulously somewhere in their marketing, and see what happens.

Continue to Part 2: How Brands Will Change Fast, or Fail Hard