If You Have to Pinch, You’re Doing It Wrong — Dallas Digital Summit 2012

TSC Dallas Digital SummitAt the Dallas Digital Summit, Ryan P. Phelan from BlueHornet said, “If you have to pinch, you’re doing it wrong.”

I’ll get back to that.

The conference this week focused on a “beyond the channel” message. None of the sessions actually had that title, but if you listened (and didn’t totally multitask on your phone), you realized that the underlying theme had to do with marrying content to distribution channels.

This message shouldn’t be new, but Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian talked about another intuitive message that shocked CEOs —Tony Hsieh’s philosophy of treating the customer well. Not rocket science, but customers can easily end up as the afterthought.

The same is true for messaging if you focus too much on the channel.

As Adam Landrum, president and CEO of Merge, notes — tactics, networks and ad types have all become commodities. We all have access to mobile and social channels, and it’s easy for anyone to use them well. The successful strategy will be the one that’s aligned with business goals and the actual experience customers have due to your brilliant execution.

If the message is so important for the channel, then the digital strategy has to change. Automation can make life easier, but flexibility makes your brand relevant. We talk about social media failures all the time (see ChapStick, Motrin, Domino’s). Yes, the failure starts with the wrong message, but the massive downfall comes from the way the brands handled the fallout.

Back to pinching. Content lives in creative, too. Ryan P. Phelan tells us we have to start taking the extra time to match design and content so that the message we send to a mobile device is compelling, not crap. If an email looks bad, 69 percent of people will delete it. Message lost. Game over. If a viewer has to pinch the email on your screen, you didn't do it right.

We have to do content right — across all our channels. It’s so important as customers demand engagement. Jack Krawczyk from StumbleUpon tells us that content helps us inspire people to reach out to each other. If our brands take that into account, we aren’t just broadcasting — we’re engaging with people.

And people engage if they see who you are. Take it from Ben Huh, CEO and founder of Cheezburger — being a little funny helps people understand you or your brand. And if you understand your community, you’ll know what’s going to get them excited and engaged.

The lesson here is this: If you want to try a new channel (or catch up in one you’ve neglected), make sure you’ve got the message together and understand who’s reading, engaging and impacting that message. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by thinking only about the channel. Think beyond.

The Dallas Digital Summit information can be found online and via their LinkedIn group. Agents Lizzie Maldonado, Michael Mercer and Emily Jasper (me) attended — that's us in the photo.

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