All filler. No killer.

This is a guest post from Mitch Joel — President, Twist Image and author of “Six Pixels of Separation.” His new book “CTRL ALT Delete” was released in May 2013. See the original post this is adapted from and more like it on his blog.

Everyone wants a hit.

That was the general sentiment around the rehearsal spaces when I studied music in college. Some dreamed of that “hit” moment happening, once they received a letter accepting them into a symphony orchestra, others imagined that moment as being asked to join B.B. King’s touring band, and most were like me: #1 single on the Billboard charts (when that sort of thing mattered more than how many streams a band had on Spotify or how many views on YouTube, combined).

What we often never thought about, was the reality of what came next. In our minds, we envisioned the stereotypical things. Some kind of play on the whole “sex, drugs, and rock and roll.” The subtle variances being whichever of those proclivities your heart desired more. The life of an artist. Forever in blue (or black) jeans and Converse.

The truth runs deeper.

For every rock star inducted into the rock n’ roll hall of fame that has had the privilege of turning their art into a life of success, there are countless others who reached some form of number one on the charts, and then disappeared into the ether. The world as their oyster soured into a VH1 “where are they now” segment. The classic one hit wonder.

What kind of marketing do you really want?

While it’s not a zero-sum game, there is a sentiment that brands are chasing the one hit wonder. They’re pushing for the next subservient chicken, dunk in the dark, ice bucket challenge, or whatever. Few brands are as focused on the craft, in the hopes of one day being inducted into the hall fame. Where is the incentive?

Forrester has reported that the standard tenure of the Chief Marketing Officer is expected to reach five years. To put that into perspective, back in 2006 the CMO was lasting about two years. So, while the marketing community is applauding this news (especially, if you consider that the typical CEO is lasting about seven years), it doesn’t speak to the broader issue and challenges that are facing the marketing industry: how do we truly develop brands that should be built to last, and not focus on trying to make something (anything) a viral success without any platform or sustenance behind it? Where is the incentive, if none of our marketing leaders plan to be around that long, anyway?

Even YouTube thinks that your brand should not focus on trying to go viral.

If your brand is lucky, YouTube will invite you over to their creative space in their New York offices for full-day sessions and tutorials on how to make great videos that don’t just sell to people who watch these videos (which, is basically, everyone), but how to become a part of the YouTube culture.

In fact, one of the main reasons these quarterly retreats take place, is because YouTube is constantly trying to tell brands that shooting for a viral video is a huge (and costly) mistake. YouTube wants brands to build a steady video platform by creating content that informs, is consistent, and that can capitalize on specific moments in time. It is more like “how to be a credible publisher” than how to score ten million viral views. A recent “CMO Today” column in The Wall Street Journal was titled, “YouTube’s Advice for Brands: Don’t Try To Go Viral.” it doesn’t get more blunt than that.

Try to avoid filler.

It’s easy for a brand to get lazy. It’s easy for the brand leaders to rush after whatever is the new and shiny object in the world. What we have is a world of possibilities. It’s a world that enables and empowers brands to be more real, more consistent, and more relevant to their consumers. To become a valuable part of their culture. YouTube is sending a valuable message: make yourself valuable.

How many brands and Chief Marketing Officers are really doing that?


About Mitch Joel

Mitch Joel is President of Mirum — an award-winning Digital Marketing and Communications agency. He is also a blogger, podcaster, journalist, speaker, and the author of "Six Pixels of Separation" and "CTRL ALT Delete." Mitch is frequently called upon to be a subject matter expert for BusinessWeek, Fast Company, Marketing Magazine, Profit, Strategy, Money, The Globe & Mail, and many other media outlets.

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