There are undoubtedly hordes of folks spending much of their Monday talking about all the mistakes Jake Delhomme made against the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday. Then they’ll move on to break down exactly what Philip Rivers and the Chargers should have done differently Sunday to beat the Steelers. They’re Monday Morning Quarterbacks and they take their “jobs” very seriously.
We often do the same in the PR, marketing, social media business, looking for opportunities to jump on the mistakes brands make and share how we would have done things differently, which, of course would have turned out perfectly. It’s especially rampant in the blog-o-sphere, where post after post piles on to the discussion.
We’re our own breed of Monday Morning Quarterbacks.
I’m all for critical evaluations of marketing campaigns and initiatives, both of those that were wildly successful and those that didn’t fare so well. It’s incredibly beneficial for many reasons. Like our football fanatic counterparts, though, we need to recognize the limits of our assessments.
Assumptions – Sometimes we make major assumptions. “Why didn’t they have focus groups?” “They should have done more research.” And so on. How do we know they didn’t do these things and more? We assume it.
Hindsight is 20/20 – It’s easy to say something should have been done differently after it doesn’t succeed. I’ve seen some bloggers write very condescending posts in reaction to a marketing initiative gone wrong. Obviously smart people on both the client-side and agency-side thought it was a sound strategy or they wouldn’t have pursued the initiative. We have the advantage of watching the slow motion replay and what comes to mind in that scenario can be very different than what seems like the right decision in the middle of the game.
We’ll never know if WE are wrong – Let’s face it. I could share with you my thoughts on why Brand X goofed up and what I would have done differently from the start, but I’m sharing that with you from a pretty safe place. We don’t get to redo the initiative and implement all my recommendations instead. Who knows? The same woeful outcome may be achieved if we could.
We need to be especially careful when critiquing marketing programs in the social media space. Yes, best practices are surfacing, but the truth is that the environment is new enough and quirky enough that there’s a great chance we’ll all continue to get at least a few bumps and bruises. We don’t do ourselves any favors by leaping on brands with vigor and mockery. All we’re doing is scaring other brands away from dipping their toes in the water for fear that the sharks will smell blood if they happen to make a mistake along the way.
I’ll say it again. I’m all for critical evaluations. I’ve seen some really good ones, in fact. My hope is that we look at marketing missteps as opportunities to learn and discuss them in ways that advance the profession forward, not in condescending, ridicule-filled conversations that don’t really offer much beyond entertainment.
Or am I missing the great value that Monday Morning Quarterbacks bring to the actual playing field?
*Image by Justin Russell.