Over the weekend I had a conversation that resonated with me so much that I've actually woken up in the middle of the night thinking about it twice now. The background is that I was spending the long weekend with a group of my in-laws' friends. As I've mentioned before, one of my highest goals as a technology marketer has always been to be able to explain what I do to my mother who is a technophobe. This requires stripping away jargon and determining a way to convey the value of a technology that resonates in the off-line world.
Armed with a mother-approved description of what Small World Labs does, I launch into my spiel assuming that I would be educating people about social media and why organizations would want to use it. As the title to my post alludes, things did not go they way I expected. After explaining that companies like ours have developed solutions that recreate the social networks that have existed off-line for ages I was interrupted by a gentleman who was not involved in technology but was a executive in charge of logistics for a Fortune 100. "Your problem is that you're giving people the ability to herd cats- which is part where you want to end up and where the cats want to go." he asserted.
And there you go- A slick marketer makes an assumption about his audience and they prove him wrong. The ensuing discussion was they same high level debate about the future of both internal and external communications that I have at a Social Media Club event, with a group who I was expecting to spoon feed. As I strive to get better as a marketer I hope to be able to engage people at this level all the time and now I'm trying to figure out how to avoid letting my expectations set the bar lower than it should be.
Of course, the whole herding cats analogy reminded me of this old EDS commercial: