Dead as a dodo

It's almost time for the summer holidays to draw to a close. The weather has been brilliant this year - making it much easier to keep our progeny entertained. Despite being about as landlocked as you can get, Hertfordshire has some great places for days out. Whether it be Wrest Park, Standalone Farm, Shuttleworth or Stockwood Park there are no shortage of places to give the children a run out.

The dodos at the Natural History Museum, Tring
One popular place to visit if the weather is not as reliable is the Natural History Museum in Tring. My wife took my children there last week and they enjoyed it as always. The free to visit collection is marvellously Victorian and comprises of over 4,000 stuffed animals. One of my favourite exhibits at the museum are the stuffed dodos. These are probably the most famous extinct animals - fabled to be so easy to catch, and so tasty to eat that they stood little chance. Of course, being extinct the taxidermists have taken educated guesses on the appearance of these ill-fated birds. In fact, one of them on display is white which is a species never confirmed to have existed!

How many of us working in digital marketing over the years have created our own Tring dodos? We have known that we want to put a new platform at the heart of our plans but are are not entirely confident on what to do with it.

Over the years I have worked for businesses that thought they should advertise in the cinema or create 360° videos of client offices. There was then a rush to build branded landing pages that few people visited and videos which few people watched. We once even spent some considerable time building an entire virtual student library in Second Life.

Trying to find an optimal use for Periscope, Snapchat or Yubl can actually be really difficult. Of course, these apps are current and popular but I've only fleetingly experienced them in the wild. It would be easy to create an account and stuff them full of marketing content but this is no form of strategy. Instead it would be a transparent attempt to try to increase brand reach and not a good use of my time.

Within our team we have also been interviewing for a digital marketing apprentice this week. It occurred to me that the successful candidate would be a good person to lead on new platforms and trends to reach younger audiences. But, brand marketing on new channels is a risky business. The majority of young people migrate from existing channels to escape being marketed to.

I'm not at this stage just yet
Within my social media training I like to mention that the average Facebook user is 40.5 years old. My analogy here is that Facebook was once a trendy nightclub where young people would go to be with their peers. Over time though their parents turned up, closely followed by the advertisers, and the young people went elsewhere which began the rise of Instagram, Whatsapp and Snapchat

We may also find that these digital natives, whilst possessing great technical skills, are not familiar with the strategy and commercial engagement side of marketing. Using the tools is one thing, but using them to create a coherent and strategic campaign with measurable outcome is another.

Therefore, if you want to put a stuffed dodo on display you need the experience of someone who is familiar with them first hand combined with skilled taxidermists.

As all successful teams comprise a mix of personality types the same is true of cross-generational expertise. My previous team comprised a team of people in every decade of working life (20s, 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's). Integrating youthful understanding of new platforms with the marketing wisdom of more mature heads can be a real asset.

By embracing collaboration across a spectrum of age and experience it's a great way to ensure that the more experienced team members are correctly utilised rather than made prematurely extinct as with our old friend the dodo.
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