This is not my first Internet marketing rodeo (lol).
Built my first site in 1999 after learning HTML from a book, site design from a seminar and Photoshop from a friend and I fell hopelessly in love. Until today I didn’t know WHAT I love so much about Internet marketing. Now I know and the challenge is to describe the tornado in my head. Let’s take a journey to Internet marketing’s magic in 3 parts:
- Arthur C. Clarke’s Slightly Modified Three Laws.
- The Hero’s Journey – Wandering In The Dark.
- Finding The Wizard Behind The Curtain.
Modified Version of Clarke’s Three Laws of Prediction
1. When a distinguished Internet marketer says something is POSSIBLE he is almost certainly RIGHT. When a distinguished Internet marketer says something is IMPOSSIBLE he is almost certainly WRONG.
2. The only way to truly ever know what is possible is to venture into the impossible at least a little.
3. Any sufficiently advanced technology (or meme or idea) is indistinguishable from magic.
After more than 12 years, thousands of Internet marketing campaigns, millions of ecommerce dollars earned and at least 4 completely different teams I know how well Clarke’s slightly modified three laws describe what I do for a living. My teams and I must create magic. How can the ability to reach across an impossibly crowded room to touch someone’s heart and mind be described other than creating magic?
The Hero’s Journey – Wandering In The Dark
There is a special RUB to creating Internet marketing magic, a twisted paradox. You can’t set out to create magic. Any attempt to create magic eliminates your ability to do so because Internet marketing magic is spontaneous and real. Magic is created by, at least initially, wandering in the dark.
I’ve been a marketer for almost 30 years starting with the Bar Soap division at P&G and now here at in Raleigh for Jon, Mark and the Atlantic BT team. Looking across every campaign over almost thirty years there is a single common thread. The beginning of MAGIC always starts with anger, frustration and a sense of dislocation. If you don’t feel like you are wandering in the dark then you aren’t about to create magic. If your content, community and campaigns feel good from the start you are doing it wrong.
Magic can’t be the objective of an Internet marketer’s journey. The marker we are on the right course, the course toward magic, is the feeling we are on the wrong course to NO WHERE. Ironic but what in life isn’t ironic? This irony is also filtering since many teams never get past the wandering in the dark part of the hero’s journey. They punk out, quit and go home convinced they can’t create magic when they may well have been on the path to do exactly that (more irony).
If you are starting to hear Joseph Campbell’s A Hero With A Thousand Faces then you were a step ahead of me until TODAY. Today, thanks to an email from a colleague wondering if we were wandering in the dark, a big, bright bulb exploded over my head. Compare this hero’s journey chart to the first phase of every project you’ve ever worked on:
When the hero refuses the call to adventure he or she is wandering in the dark. Look at the rest of the hero’s journey and think about every project you’ve ever worked on. The hero’s journey describes every project management timeline along with our daily quest for meaning and context.
Finding The Wizard Behind the Curtain
In the worst of wandering in the dark we may not be very nice to be around. When I created the Mondrian grid for my first website it took 3 months to figure out how to engineer the lines. Now those lines would take any web programmer in the Atlantic BT center minutes, but FoundObjects.com (now RIP) was launched in November 1999. Things were different then. Usually a friend, mentor or family member (Yoda) frames the conversation or problem slightly differently and revelation happens. Presto Chango and we see the wizard behind the curtain. We are transformed from wandering, lost and frustrated to someone who, for a tiny moment, sees and knows truth. What do we want to do the moment we know truth?
We want to share. Truth is so rare and beautiful we rush to give it away, to bring it home and change others. Knowing the phases of the journey to magic doesn’t change their required existence. We only find magic when we are present and capable in each phase. If we try to jump the shark magic disappears. When we “fail” we believe we are at “fault” and begin to assign “blame”. Eckhart Tolle taught me a magical lesson in his book A New Earth. Tolle explains whatever IS happening is what is supposed to be happening. WOW was my reaction. I remember furiously underlining. I wanted to get up and talk about how Tolle just defined the essence of life, love and Internet marketing.
Internet marketing always happens NOW. Great Internet marketing is created by heroes capable of creating magic, those true believers who create magic without meaning too. Internet marketers must think magically. They must go through the same processes every campaign, website design and mobile application. They must treat every all too familiar step as if it were as new and untouched as fresh snow on a quiet winter’s morning or the sound of the ocean at night. Thankfully, our Internet marketing journey to magic is always the same.