What I know for sure (about marketing)

by Fabrice Calando on May 27, 2015


This is what I know for sure about marketing – what it is, how it works and what it’s for.

1. Marketing is about getting your potential customers to know of you and fall in love with you.

2. Marketing is about finding the essence of the organization and communicating that honestly and relentlessly. In other words, it really isn’t about what you wish you were or would like to think you are. If you’re a cutthroat sales-focused, bottom line organization, then say that. Then find clients that seek that out.

3. As much as I would like it to be about nice logos and pictures, it’s about results. If you can’t predict and forecast, then it isn’t a priority.

4. However, there is a flip side of that – the devil is in the details. A beautiful presentation, logo, online presence, etc. goes a long way. It might not be measurable (unless your data set is large enough).

5. Therefore, there’s a balance between aesthetics and results. Sometimes you need to impress, comfort and build trust. Sometimes you need to convert and optimize. They always go hand-in-hand.

6. Another thing about data. Data is only worth it if it means something (if you can use it to predict, analyze, forecast, conclude). Vanity metrics are really useless. Although they can help you sell to a boss who loves vanity metrics, but that’s another story for another time.

7. I think the best marketing team is a duo of creative/intuition/psychology and analytical/data-focused/testing. That way you get original efforts, supported by facts (sometimes people have both skills, but not usually. They would like to think they do, but usually someone is more biased towards one).

8. If you’re a marketing practitioner, you need a marketing thesis. Venture Capitalists have investment theses that dictate what kind of investments they will chase and which they will pass on. In the same way, marketing practitioners need to be able to clearly articulate their vision for how marketing will work at a company. There is no right or wrong answer, just consistent, sustained effort (in line with the overall company culture). Maybe you seek new flashy tools or maybe you rock tried and tested ways. Maybe email is your thing or SEO is your thing. Maybe you’re a social media person or a design person. It doesn’t matter, be confident in what you do and do it better than anyone.

9. More on that last point: marketing only works with consistent, sustained efforts. One-shot deals can work, but they usually don’t. Or more precisely, they sometimes look like they work (a big boost in leads for example) but it always peters out. Your schedule could vary – you can show up every year at the Super Bowl or you can show up daily, drip by drip. As long as it’s consistent and sustained, it can work.

10. Marketing needs a foundation. It can be a website, social media presences, an inbound marketing tool, visuals, whatever. It should be based on your marketing thesis and you should be able to roll it out in a predictable fashion.

11. What about unpredictability? The world isn’t stable. The world can’t always be predicted. That’s why you need a mix of data and creativity.

12. The higher up you go in the marketing ladder (at large organizations) the more you need to be a conductor and less of a musician. Of course, this takes nothing away from musicians, there’s no concert without them.

This is what I believe about marketing, what do you believe?

(Photo credit: adele.turner)


A hiatus of sorts

by Fabrice Calando on April 10, 2015

Today marks the beginning of a brief hiatus in my writing here on fabricecalando.com. I decided a break was necessary because I’m not thrilled about the direction this site has taken. A writer publishes to be read and the readership has steadily gone down over the past few years. I have a few dedicated readers and I’m grateful for that, but the truth is, writing here used to pretty much be the highlight of my professional day and now it’s a chore; almost an annoyance. It’s gotten to the point where I’m completely ignoring the health of this site. It got hacked over the holidays and I feel I’ve barely put a band aid over the wounds.

But the declining readership is only a symptom. There’s more to it…

A brief history
When I first started writing regularly, 5+ years ago, social media marketing was really taking off and I was working for a prominent advertising agency here in Montreal. We were often recommending blogging to our clients, but truth is none of us really knew what that entailed. So I took it up myself to understand what I was proposing.

From that point on it became a learning tool. I got to experiment with writing schedules, different topics, web analytics, SEO and SEM, social media marketing and frankly it was great. Even though the “writing about social media and marketing” space is crowded, it propulsed my career to new and greater places. I was known in the industry here. I got a lot of inbound requests for expertise, speaking gigs and more. On top of that, I got to meet great people like Ray, Jeff and Chris down I’m Atlanta to name just a few. I got to meet and exchange with Julien Smith and other heroes of sorts: Chris Brogan, C.C. Chapman and others.

Then I stopped working in the advertising/consulting space and made the conscious decision to stop writing about social media and marketing to focus on business in general as well as what it takes to push through and do work that matters.

That was a mistake.

It’s a broad topic dominated by kings, and slowly but surely, it has gotten me away from the initial purpose of learning and furthering my knowledge.

And I think that’s why writing has gotten to be a chore. The adventure and discovery is gone.

What’s next
I’m not looking to return to what was. I’m different: I have more experience now, more knowledge. I’ve seen and lived more. But truth is I’m a marketer. I’m good at what I do. Most of what I propose and implement works. But I feel the new direction has thrown me off my game. I’m spending too much time reading, writing and listening to topics unrelated to what I am at the core and I need to focus on what sets me apart not add a sprinkling of this and that.

Some things I need to think about:

  • What do I want to write about? Does the world really need another marketing blog?
  • If I had to describe the site in a sentence or two, what would it be? Would that description be unique? Something that would be missed if I stopped?
  • Should I continue powering the site with WordPress or do I switch to a platform like Squarespace that will allow me to focus more on the writing and promotion of the site and less on the technical.
  • Should I just switch everything over to a platform that already has an audience, like LinkedIn or Medium?
  • Do I want to continue with shorter form or do I want to write more substantial pieces?
  • I currently write on the train, on my way to work. Does that still make sense?

My goal is to be back up and running in no more than a month.

I want to thank all of you who continue coming back post after post. If you have any questions, just hit reply…


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When small won’t work

by Fabrice Calando on April 7, 2015

Sometimes small is everything. You want your processors to be smaller and smaller to power your iPhone longer and better. The details matter because that’s where the devil is. You want to focus on small incremental steps to change a behavior because Little Bets work better.

But other times small doesn’t cut it. When you’re setting out to change your customer. Bold moves are required. When you’re going to challenge the status quo, we need to notice. When you’ve decided to step into the arena and they come at you with all they got, standing tall is the only response.

Being small is a way to hide, a way to give in to the lizard brain. Sure small feels safe. “Maybe they’ll overlook me if they can’t see me.” Or “if I don’t look threatening they won’t bother.”

But this is precisely when small won’t work.

Sure we need to be humble. And sometimes we need to “speak softly and carry a big stick” as Teddy Roosevelt would say. I’m not saying we need to boast and cry wolf. But when you’ve made the choice to no longer be a cog, to step out from shadows and be different, you’ve made the choice to take hits and consequently you’ve made the choice that small won’t work.


Jumping the fence

April 6, 2015

For marketers, work that matters takes time. Work that’s done to make a difference – no matter how big or small – is not an overnight thing. It’s a slow, consistent process (only to be sometimes sprinkled with big bursts). The analogy often given is “how does water cut through rock? One drip at a […]

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Greener grass

April 1, 2015

There’s a saying you probably know well: “the grass is always greener on the other side.” Your neighbor’s lawn always looks better than yours. The same goes for anything really – marketing, business models, sales process, company culture: Of course Ariana Huffington can talk about work-life balance, meditation and taking time for yourself, she’s made […]

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March 26, 2015

The issue with many consultants stems from alignment (or misalignment). Some come and demo big and fancy tools while others, small and cheap ones. Which is fine in and of itself. The thing is, these are presented regardless of the priorities, promises and business model set out by the client. Now of course big and […]

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The unremarkable brand

March 23, 2015

The unremarkable brand depends on legalese, contracts and fine print to enforce their “uniqueness.” Of course it’s comforting to be unremarkable. Since school we’ve been thought to be average: try to get an A of course, but don’t stand out and rock the boat. So today, we work hard to be average. So when push […]

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What’s a website today?

March 20, 2015

Not long ago, it used to be that your website was the only way to live on the world wide web. So it made sense to hire a plethora of developers and designers to make it. WordPress, Squarespace, Wix and all that came before stated that the website, although vital, was no longer what it […]

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Rituals and traditions

March 19, 2015

Rituals are automatisms we develop to make room for what matters. If you automate your mornings, the way you write your blog posts, your lunch hour, you decrease the energy it takes to make these things happen. The flip side of course is that it leaves more energy available for what matters: the work you […]

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Nothing to say

March 5, 2015

I’m tired, I can’t write today. I don’t feel like pushing the envelope right now. I don’t think what I have to say matters. What if I make a fool out of myself? Oh but I know he’ll dismiss what I write. I’m not important. I’m really in over my head here… All examples of […]

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