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Is digital marketing innovation too fast for its own good?

Every day the news rolls in about some aspect of the Internet marketing space. Actually, to say it is every day is a bit of an understatement. Life at Internet speed happens at a fast and furious pace that is difficult for anyone to keep pace with. In fact, by saying that every day something new happens is looking at the tortoise’s version of the Internet space as opposed to a hare’s point of view which needs the new Real Time offering from Google Analytics to see something when it happens, not if it happened in some previous time period.

So what is a professional marketer to do? And it’s probably even more appropriate to ask what is the business owner who is not a professional marketer to do to feel like they have some shot of staying abreast of this constantly moving target?

Image by hdzimmermann via Flickr

All of these questions point to a growing trend in the Internet space that will ultimately become a large problem for the industry. The problem will be that so few marketers are “up to speed” on the latest and greatest way to use the Internet to grow leads, revenue and whatever else the latest promises hold, that there may not be the scale necessary for continued expansion in the space.

You see, you can innovate all you want, but if only a small piece of any potential market is actually applying the innovation to their business, then that innovation is wasted. It’s ahead of its time. How many times have you heard that an idea was ahead of its time? Well, what if an entire industry ran so fast that it was ahead of its time? Wouldn’t that be interesting? If you really think about it, Internet and social media marketing are already at this point.

One only needs to see what Google is doing with small businesses in their push to get them online in the first place. Yup, you read that correctly. As we approach the year 2012 Google is still trying to convince the 50 or so percent of businesses that aren’t online at all to finally get in the act. You would think, with how the industry treats itself with sites like Mashable and TechCrunch proclaiming the second coming of some neat startup that got millions of dollars from VC’s in the the incestuous land of Silicon Valley, that this is not even a possibility. How could anyone be so far behind when the Valley is so far ahead?

This is one of my biggest pet peeves with this Internet culture of immediate and future gratification in ever lessening time periods. Eric Schmidt of Google joked that Google will know what you want before you do! He was joking but I actually think that on some level he thought he was giving a glimpse of a future reality. Today we don’t even allow any time for real research to see if something is viable. The ready, shoot, aim mindset of everyone today is forgetting to see if anyone is really applying these new marketing wonder drugs effectively. It seems like people don’t even care if they are. Just get to the point where someone can cash out and let the rest of the world be damned.

I feel that this kind of thinking is going to boomerang on the industry. I am not saying that it will be knocked back into the analog age, but I am saying that this frenetic pace of growth is creating unrealistic expectations among innovators and those using these techniques alike. At some point something has got to give.

What will it be? I suspect it might be patience more than anything else. Just because we as a culture don’t seem to have any patience anymore doesn’t mean it has fallen by the wayside as a virtue. What is likely to happen is that regular people, the masses, will lose patience with the technorati and their latest trinkets and baubles and do what is the least desirable to the Valley: stop paying attention. Sure, the cool kids will keep playing, but the masses, the ones that can produce the scale needed for success in business, will become so jaded that they will look elsewhere. They will look for something they can actually apply to their business and ultimately they will no longer succumb to the mind-numbingly pathetic message that comes from Silicon Valley:  if you aren’t on board, then you aren’t worth anything.

The truth is that not being on board may mean that you are looking for something that works rather than just for something that is new.

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