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Why General Advice is Late Advice
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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As we continue to try to keep our footing on the fast-moving advertising landscape, it is easy to understand why we look towards the experts and thought leaders of the industry. Why should we look for the unbroken, untraveled areas, when these people have already paved a way and provide us footprints to follow?

In lovely corporate speak, "why reinvent the wheel?"

In advertising and marketing, everybody is an expert. At least it seems so. The web is full of "best practices" and "marketing how-to's", that, if followed, everyone should be able to hold their own. Yet that is not the case.

Why?

The best explanation we offer comes from the book Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets by William Bonner and Lila Rajiva. In the book, their focus is the stock market, but the observations are more than relevant.

In the book, the authors talked about when it's the best time to buy stocks. Ultimately, the best time to buy is when very few people know about it, and it is just starting to take off and make news. According to their observations, as more people began to learn about a given stock, and as more people bought it, the price of the stock went up. So if you were one of the first to buy, you would make out pretty well. If you were in the midst of the crowd, the law of diminishing returns suggests that the deal you thought you were getting would not come into fruition.

Likewise in advertising: When you think of or see a great idea or concept (and it works for your client, obviously), your consumer will probably react favorably. As more practitioners jump on the bandwagon and adopt the practice, it is likely that the impact will diminish.

The point? "Best practices" won't always work. 

We appreciate the thoughts from the folks from IttyBiz, who noted the same thing: not all advice pertains to your situation.

Great example: everybody is watching the ad revenue numbers for Facebook. People want the numbers to look so good so they can tell everyone that advertising on Facebook works. But who is watching the rebirth of MySpace? If your audience is musically or entertainment-inclined, stop following everyone else and pay attention to what Timberlake & Co. are doing over there. It's not short of impressive.

We're not saying you shouldn't pay attention to all the advice out there. But take note of your situation and the situation of your client or brand, and don't be afraid to trek a path of your own. Besides, people may just start following you. 


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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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