Let’s imagine for a moment that you are a carpenter (unless you really are a carpenter, in which case just think about this scenario). For a long time, you really loved your work. You loved seeing new items take shape under the careful guidance of your hands. You enjoyed the feel of the materials you were using, the processes you had worked out for yourself, learning new techniques, and more. You jumped out of bed to get to work because you really loved what you were doing.
Now let’s say one day you found out that there was a brand new tool that would change a lot about how you did your work every day. You decided to give the new tool a try, but learning this new way of doing things took up a lot of your time. The learning was slow and fraught with dangerous errors along the way. As soon as you thought you had grasped this one new tool, you found out there was another one, maybe slightly similar but still very different from anything you had done before. Just as you thought you were getting the hang of that one yet another new tool came into view. Pretty soon, all you are doing is spending your days trying to learn these new tools before the next generation comes out. You rush through the work you used to love, trying to do things in these new ways, and pretty soon your focus almost leaves your real work, your real passion entirely. You are consumed with the tools that are supposed to make your work more effective, more efficient, or more perfect.
As marketers, we are in danger of living out this hypothetical situation in the very real world. Companies now seem to be focused more on what tools to use versus what work should actually be created with those tools. For example, instead of thinking how social media could help spotlight messaging that already exists, companies are letting the tools guide them. “How can we generate content that will do well on social media platforms?” Instead of saying, “We have a great video that a QR code could lead people to,” companies are thrusting themselves into a position of saying, “We need to use QR codes because they’re hot right now. How should we do that?” Instead of thinking of how we can use great photography to promote our products we’re consumed with figuring out which smart phone has the best camera, as if that is what we should be using to take great photography.
Meanwhile, all of our attention is being drawn away from our real passion. For companies, focus is no longer, perhaps, centered on the products that are being made or the customers who can benefit from those products. Rather it’s, “We need to get on mobile marketing. How can we do that?” As marketers, our attention is increasingly drawn merely towards keeping up with tools. Is it Pinterest? Instagram? What about Google’s Panda updates and Bing’s increasing popularity? And why aren’t you tweeting enough, and your Facebook page has been dormant for three months. Where is there room in that crowd for creative thinking? Where is there room to come up with a message and then decide what tools are best suited to spreading that message?
There was a time, we’re sure, when you loved everything about your work. If you are sensing that your passion is waning, perhaps it’s not the field you’re in or the industry you’re serving. Perhaps you’re just focusing too much on the tools and not enough on what really motivates you.
Keep the passion in there. Let the message drive the tools, not the other way around.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/75905404@N00/7126147125/ via Creative Commons