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  • Edward Bass

The Experience Disconnect

We really need to rethink this whole knowledge sharing thing...

If there is one critique which rings in my ears about marketing from those outside the industry it is that we're often vague around the real value of our work - and that the examples provided often tend to be just a combination of empty buzzwords and straight up marketing bullshit.

I can't deny I feel the same way at times, and its one of the reasons I tend to steer clear of certain conferences (not that there are any on right now). In that context the vagueness often manifests itself as senior management presenting and discussing case studies and campaigns where their role was as overseer rather than hands on. As such they don't talk about the really interesting and useful stuff such as how the project was actually implemented.

Of course I understand that some marketers (agencies especially) might not be too keen on sharing their methods for fear of competitive disadvantage but the fact is we're not developing intercontinental missile systems here and so such secrecy is a little silly. In fact more open sharing of learnings and successful methods can actually help lift the entire industry.

The structure and nature of modern businesses of course means that senior managers are the pick for attending events as they're the best choice to showcase a company - they just aren't too often the best people to share practical knowledge. And I don't know about you but I'd rather attend this kind of event to learn and be inspired rather than be 'showcased' to.

I've seen a similar situation with platforms who are seeking to evolve by understanding use cases from their clients but who inevitably end up talking to representatives who are several levels up the management ladder from those who are actually doing the work. They get to hear a great deal about results, about how happy the clients were - just not the useful information about how these were actually achieved which can help shape future developments.

So here's a recommendation - if you really want to extract knowledge when engaging with marketing teams then don't just engage with management but instead talk to those in less senior roles who've had hands on experience. Furthermore, if marketers allowed this kind of cross business access rather than just jostling another senior manager to the front to 'represent' then this would help remove some of the mystique around our work and demonstrate what real expertise looks like.

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