When I was 15 I went on a campout, it was an initiation campout for a fraternity that I wanted membership in. It was a three-day camping trip and my brother and I knew it would be a tough weekend but the joy of membership would be worth the struggle. On the second day, we spent three hours moving huge concrete bricks up a hill. There was twenty other men and boys there who were in the same position as us attempting to get in the fraternity. The bricks were huge, awkwardly shaped, and heavy. Everyone struggled to move a brick even five feet so we created a daisy chain to move the bricks, that helped immensely. At the end of the three hours everyone was spent and needing a break. After the break we were told to move the bricks across the hill. When we asked as to why we were moving the bricks, we were told that it was not important, only that we moved them. We never built anything that year, I was so frustrated, why move bricks if you’re not going to build anything. It wasn’t until several years later that other men and boys after me would eventually move more bricks and build stairs to go up the entire hill. Only then did I feel that my effort had been worth the toil, building something is just as important as moving the bricks.
There’s this mentality in marketing whether traditional or social that as long as things are moving or action is being created then that’s success. Too often we mistake moving bricks for building something. I had this conversation with a friend and how some people are so satisfied moving bricks. They like the notion that they are doing something and if questioned about their involvement they can always say they’ve been doing the hard work of moving bricks.
In marketing we can associate the hard work of being on the networks, sending out emails, adjusting landing pages, or even a mailer; these are the bricks. We can spend days and months moving bricks and telling ourselves that we are busy and that we are doing something of value. Working away until we are tired with our pockets turned out thinking how worthless it all was to spend that time and money working so hard. Many might think they spent their time building something but they only moved bricks from one place to another, maybe stacking them a little gaining some attention but never really seeing anything materialize.
Many in our industry talk about strategy and discuss how it’s so over done and for many that would be true but strategy is what holds the bricks together to make something of value. And while mortar never makes up for the majority of a building it is what holds everything together to make a structure strong. There are plenty of people out there who will sell simple “Marketing 101″ as strategy but there is a difference in having a plan that when executed correctly will make long lasting changes for a business.
When we talk about strategy with a client it isn’t telling them they should be on social networks or should redesign their website it’s examining their business as a whole and evaluating how they could best compete in the existing landscape. We break down every aspect of marketing and compare what they are currently doing and how we could improve or change it to help their brick laying be more effective. Every client is different and what they seek is different and to simply apply the same strategy to every client is absurd but many “experts” will do that all day long. There is something to be said about solid strategy that can help build something because it puts all of the pieces together to actually make something, to achieve a goal.
We can spend all day being involved online and offline but without a plan we are just creating busy work for ourselves. It’s easy to get lost in the mundane, safe busy work that comes with marketing but it takes real leadership to choose a plan and move towards it using the tools at hand. That is the difference between moving bricks and building something of value. Strategy and leadership will always tell us how to build something amazing, then it’s a joy to move the bricks because we know what we are building and why we are doing it.