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On Genius

I mentioned last week that I spoke at the Internet Strategy Forum Executive Summit in Portland, Oregon. Conference speakers know that you’ll sometimes see reviews of your speeches in blogs afterwards. So I was happy to see one entitled “Mike Moran is a Genius” but I think it would come as a distinct shock to people who know me well. But behind that humorous title is something that I think is worth thinking about.

 I think we could all look like geniuses if we listened to our customers more. And responded to what we heard. In fact. it is amazing how smart you look when you do what your customer really wants.

So, as flattering as it is for someone to think I am a genius, I think what I am proposing when I say “do it wrong quickly” is that it is OK not be a genius. It’s OK to admit that what we are doing is probably wrong. And it’s OK to try it anyway.

We can measure how our customers respond and then try something else. After a number of these iterations (maybe a very high number), we may eventually lurch into the “right” answer—and look like geniuses.

So, thanks Ben, for that highly complimentary blog entry. It just makes me think about how all of us can look like geniuses by trying things. When they don’t work (they usually won’t), then we try something else.

On a side note, one place where I am most definitely not a genius is in setting up contests. My first contest drew exactly one entry and my second one, which times out on August 1, has so far (wait for it) one entry. So if you have a story on how listening to your customer made you look like a genius, please pass it along—you may win a copy of me new book. If you can tell a story of how you were able to do it wrong quickly, enter now.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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