The biggest mistake digital marketers make isn’t so much any single mistake but a major mental trap. This mental trap is best summed up by The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson.
Yes, the folktale.
Folktales are passed down from generation to generation because they’re:
- Easy to remember (effective storytelling!)
- Largely true
Well, okay, they’re not true in the literal sense. But they’re true in the sense that they help us understand certain facts of life via allegory. They’re fictional tales that convey a larger truth.
And The Emperor’s New Clothes is one tale every digital marketer needs to revisit right now.
The Emperor’s New Clothes Fairy Tale
Just so we’re all on the same page, here’s the gist of the story:
Two fraudsters, pretending that they’re expert weavers, tell the emperor they can weave him the most beautiful clothes. These clothes, they say, are invisible to anyone who is stupid or a fool.
The emperor, who is vain and cares only about his clothing and is willing to spend top dollar on his garments, agrees.
The looms remain empty, even as the swindlers promise they’re working on the garments. The emperor and plenty of his staff see that the looms are empty. But, they don’t say anything, lest they be labeled a fool.
And many of us remember how it ends: The emperor parading through the city—naked.
How to Fix the Biggest Mistake Digital Marketers Make
The biggest mistake digital marketers make is the exact mistake the emperor makes. Instead of weavers, we’re dealing with other digital marketers. And instead of parading naked in the city, we’re parading around the same tired tactics … that don’t actually work for our business.
This happens all the time in the digital marketing arena because people are constantly re-sharing and amplifying information they’ve heard—whether or not that information has proven to be true for themselves.
And maybe they haven’t even tried it!
A perfect example of this is the dating metaphor for lead generation—that you have to nurture for weeks, or even months!, before selling to your customers. (Surprise: this is terrible advice. Here’s why >>)
Another example? The idea that you have to live launch.
And another? That price is the main reason people don’t buy.
Just because a bunch of people are saying the same thing doesn’t mean that it’s true.
In the story, it’s a child who blurts out that the emperor is naked.
But in your own business, you don’t necessarily have the luxury of an unbiased party stating the obvious.
You need to step into your CEO role and call out what’s not working for your business—even if everyone else is doing it. Even if you’ve spent a lot of time (and money) trying to make it work.
Have you noticed any areas where you’re becoming the emperor? Share them (and how you’re going to address them) in the comments below!