The strange disappearance of expertise: Part 1. The digital dimension

I write this month with news hot off the press: Business success has now become so easy; so formulaic and reduced down to a mere following of the ‘key steps’ and the ‘tips, tricks and ploys’ that are Googleable by any of us, that it is no longer necessary to have specialist knowledge in any of the specific fields of business.

Except accountancy, obviously.

And so, the shiny new future is a world where technocrats pass down their bitesized chunks of wisdom (in return for nothing more than Google ranking) to a hungry mob of chameleon like followers.

But hang on! Is it possible that the rush to make businesses entirely technocratic has in any way been exaggerated? As if the prophets of this bright new world might have a vested interest in the silicon filled idyll of which they preach?

The evolutionary journey

I have great news! The fact that consumers (occasionally or otherwise) inhabit the new digital space does not mean they are not present anywhere else. They have lives outside of their digital presence.

By the way – this is not a plea for print and outdoor media over digital. It’s actually nothing to do with the medium at all. These things are secondary.

The point is that people have not evolved at such a pace that we can forget everything that we previously knew about them. Marketing is about people, not machines. People have not evolved at such a rate that we need to forget what we previously knew about them. We were not monkeys yesterday!

So, if you are filling your site with words that will impress Google but will be unintelligible to your users then you are doing it wrong.

If you are taking every possible opportunity to hit people in the face with a ‘call to action’ then you are doing it wrong.

And, if your blogs are formed by analytics and key words and metrics rather than expertise then you are doing it wrong.

There has to still be a place for content that serves its stated purpose and satisfies human needs. And there has to be a value in being the person or company that delivers this.

When was the last time a discussion group actually contained a discussion?

I recently went looking for one. I searched through all of the groups that I am signed up to. Not one. Until a single lone voice reached out from a recruitment company in Team Valley … To actually ask a genuine question.

The ultimate problem

2 reasons why whatever system is followed, the future is bleak for the ‘tips and tricks’ / ‘revolutionary new approach’ merchants:

  1. If everyone follows them they can’t work. The same can’t be said for strategic level approaches. Because these approaches result in different companies doing DIFFERENT things.
  2. Many of these things work in principle but are hijacked by the spammers and the ‘small amount of knowledge but lots of time’ brigades. Hence the fake online conversations and the lack of discussion within ‘discussion’ forums.

Ultimately, there are elements of ‘what we’ve always known’ that are just right. The ones that are founded on a level of strategic understanding of how people work and how they interact with each other and how they make decisions. With 24 hours in every day and with no evidence of a major change in the pace of human evolution, this is bound to be the case.

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