July 12, 2007

When Conference Presenters Are Wrong

Today I shared my thoughts on how catalogers might capitalize on online marketing with members of the Mailorder Gardeners Association.

For me, questions from the audience are often the most interesting part of a presentation.

One attendee had a great question. I presented a finding that online merchants who have video, audio or blinking text, "on average", perform worse than sites that are more static in nature. Her question: "My business is about to implement video and audio on our site. Is this a bad thing for us to do?"

My surprising answer was "No". Even though I just presented the information on a slide, it is important to note that my findings represent "averages".

This means that many sites with audio/video will outperform sites without this technology.

This is an important concept. Everything in marketing has a chance to succeed, or a chance to fail. Some things have a greater chance to fail. Ultimately, there is a risk/reward issue to be weighed. You can test strategies that are unlikely to work --- and if they don't work, stop doing them! But if they do work, you have a competitive advantage over those practicing established industry norms.

A different presenter suggested that various online marketing tactics were 'death', that the audience needed to talk to their information technology team immediately and implement changes asap.

I used to think that way. But I've been wrong many times over the past two decades.

I share things with you that have frequently worked over the years. You're welcome to do the exact opposite of what I suggest. Feel free to tell me and my readers when you observe success that runs counter to my suggestions. We all benefit from diversity of thought.