I can hardly believe that the marketing podcast I started as a way to to stay busy and connected as I was getting my marketing consultancy, The Cool Beans Group, is now a year old. The BeanCast has been an awesome experience and I'm so thankful that we're reaching the 50th episode this coming Sunday.
So as I prepare for the show, just thought I'd call out some of the key things I've learned this year.
The Truth Behind Pseudo Fame
I knew that a show coming out of the woodwork would need a certain amount of help. So in the beginning I set out to convince some of the established podcasters and bloggers I respected to be on the show. I figured they had audience and I needed an audience. Made sense, right?
What surprised me, though, was how little convincing I needed to do!
And over the months as I've gotten to know John Wall, Scott Monty, Steve Hall, Peter Shankman, Chris Brogan, the ever-energetic Mr. Bill Green and many others, I've found very good role-models in how to navigate the waters of Internet-fame. The secret? Be helpful and approachable to everyone and don't drink your own bathwater.
These guys helped me out and showed me (sometimes by contrast with those who were reluctant to help me) that anyone can appear famous on the Internet. It takes someone special to get past all that and realize that what we are doing takes a symbiotic relationship with each other.
Never Be the Expert
Over and over again I've heard this said a million different ways on the program. There's a difference between a person with an expertise and an expert. The person who says they are an "expert" has to waste too much time proving that they are the best. Whereas the simply competent person is more able to focus on finding the best solution.
I started the show with the self-description, "Hosted by the man who knows a little, but knows everyone" for exactly this reason. I do this show not because I have a lot of knowledge to share, but rather to keep myself sharp by debating with the smartest people I can find. I find this to be true of my guests as well and I think this is what makes the show so valuable to people. You don't feel stupid listening. You feel like you are just part of an ongoing conversation. I like that.
There's Always Another Good Idea
So many times I've heard prior to a big presentation during my agency days, "We don't want to give them too much or they'll just take this and run without paying us." Here's what I think of that:
The minute I run out of a good ideas is the minute I should walk away from this business. Good marketing is all about new ideas. Which is why I don't mind giving away the farm in each show and in each blog post.
My content here on this site is proof positive that the more I share, the more it forces me to innovate and reach beyond the expected. And I think there's a lesson in that for all marketers. We are so afraid of the competition getting our strategies and taking away our advantages, that we stay secretive with our thinking. What I'm learning now, though, is that the more open we become the more it forces us to get sharper, brighter and competitive. Assuming what we have is "the best idea" is what kills even better ideas.
The Needs Are the Same, Only the Means Have Changed
Probably my biggest insight from this year is that in spite of all the changing ways in which we communicate with our audience, the basic needs remain the same.
I've had people on the show who bring vast experience in all of the traditional and new media disciplines. We've discussed everything from social media strategy to direct marketing response measurement to media placement for TV. And while I've learned a lot about best-of-breed thinking in all of these areas, I've been shocked at the universal agreement that the basic goals of marketing still need to be addressed:
You need to always be building a brand identity
You need to drive measurable sales
You have to justify every dollar spent
You need to build loyalty with your customers
You need to engage your customers to prevent churn
It's easy to lose sight of the basics in the excitement of changing times. But our discussions on the show have helped me stay rooted in the fact that changing marketing tactics don't negate basic marketing needs.
So to end this little reminiscence, I want to say thanks to those of you who listen. I've said since the beginning that I would do this show even if no one listened. It's just too valuable an experience to talk to such smart people each week. But I have to admit that it's a lot more fun doing it when lots of you are listening in. And I hope you find it as enjoyable as I do.
Here's to another 50 episodes!