Mad Men

Muhammad Yasin is the Marketing Director at HCC Medical Insurance Services

When you look at the stakeholders of a website, the folks doing the heavy lifting of strategy and execution, you will find two types of people. One of my mentors labeled them perfectly when he called them, “Math Men, and Mad Men.” Math Men are strictly analytical. They focus on ecommerce, numbers, and are irritated by things they see as unnecessary frivolities. All they want on their website is the facts. Nothing more, nothing less. The others, the Mad Men, are the creative types and prolific content creators. They will create the next big campaign concept, but they also just might get a little long winded and will likely be more concerned with the storytelling aspect than the analytical side of things.

Convincing these two sides to get along is a challenge in itself, but convincing them to work together can be even more of a struggle.

For an example of this, let’s take a look at the frustrating experience of Josh Taylor. Josh is a designer for a marketing agency in Indianapolis. He jumped into a Google+ conversation on this topic and voiced a concern that I regularly hear when speaking with designers or copywriters in the e-commerce world.

“As an example of frustration on my end: being asked to make the copy completely bland and use as much jargon as I can for [Search Engine Optimization], but completely foregoing the feel and personality of the campaign… the analytics guy has to understand that I’m not going to go as far as filling the creative with gibberish…”

Math Men need to be convinced that your website really does need the videos, the blogs, and the other premium content. They need to be convinced that a website is more than just a strong list of features, benefits and calls to action. Mad Men need to be convinced that, while rich content is valuable, sometimes too much storytelling can get in the way of closing a sale. Math Men tend to be analytical, statistical, and blunt. This personality type often clashes with that of the Mad Men, who are more “touchy-feely” about their craft and may go out on faith sometimes instead of hard data.

Each of these personalities presents its own issues, and the only way around them is with a set of ground rules unique to your company. I’m not going to lie, getting to those ground rules is hard work. But through overcoming this challenge, you frequently see some of the most brilliant marketing campaigns. I recently spoke with Erick Deckers, co-author of No Bullshit Social Media, who quantified the value of this struggle perfectly by saying, “The Math Men can tell you what worked and how well, but without the creative types to feed the beast, they’re just calculating the value of Zero.”

I have to produce content for ANOTHER social media property?!

The Internet moves so quickly that many companies are forced into having disparate kinds of content spread across the web: A great Facebook post here, an amazing YouTube video there, an epic blog post on their own website. Is seems like every other week there is a new social media outlet that is the next big thing. Making matters worse, each medium has its own format, which forces marketing teams to create content in each type.

The issue becomes how to maintain control of your marketing message across all of these channels, keep focused on your end goal and avoid getting sucked into the hype around volume of content creation. On this point, I’m going to defer to Jon Coleman, Principal Experience Architect at REI and one of the smartest guys I know. He said something that really hit home for me,

“The challenge here is that marketers are incentivizing publishing, not the planning and creation of quality content that fits the context of the community where it’s being published. The content sucks not because the company failed to publish, but because they simply treat content as a commodity, which it’s not — content is an experience.”

Content is being created in silos. When you speak to content creators, you often run into those who have created content specifically for YouTube, or wrote a blog optimized for a specific medium. The mediums make crossover difficult, but still necessary. In order to get around the issue, a marketing team must learn to take a specialized piece of content and incorporate it into multiple mediums. Why should you bother? Make the effort, if for no other reason than Google will love you and so will your customers.

Let’s look at an example of how to make these connections between common content channels. About a year ago, I had the opportunity to shoot video with a high-end stylist. This video did well on its own, gathering over 50,000 views and acting as a traffic driver to our product pages. Recently I wrote a blog post on destination weddings and remembered that video. The post seemed to be fine on its own, but it really popped once I added the video as related content. The blog, and video, were also distributed via multiple social channels and optimized for each.

This is an example of how you can integrate different types of content to create richer pieces of media. The key is to have a clear understanding of how topics connect to one another. I’m going to be honest; this can get incredibly hard once you have a large content inventory. However, having a clear inventory of your content can make the creation of new content a breeze.

I’m going to leave you with two challenges. One, set clear project goals that allow your Mad Men and Math Men to work together and consistently produce an amazing consumer experience. Two, create a few pieces of amazing content and stay vigilant at looking for opportunities to include those pieces in future projects.

Muhammad Yasin is the Marketing Director at HCC Medical Insurance Services and the Co-Author of Nothing New: An Irreverent History of Storytelling and Social Media. You can follow in on Twitter: @MuhammadInc.