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Online marketing and Arsene Wenger Syndrome

Posted by Liam Curley on 28 December 2018

If you’re a football fan, you know that Arsene Wenger managed Arsenal for around 20 years. For the first 10 years he was highly successful and brought ideas to the English game that completely transformed many aspects of how other clubs managed their team on, but particularly off, the pitch.

The second half of his tenure wasn’t anywhere near as successful and, towards the last few years, it was clear to the majority he needed to move on. His team was stale, he hadn’t moved with the times and he was using many of the same methods and tactics he’d been using from day one.

When journalists and footballers speak about Arsene Wenger, they talk about a man who is one of the most well-informed and knowledgeable people in football. As astute and insightful today as he was in the mid-nineties. When he talks about football, he is engaging and articulate, whether about tactics and man-management or the economics and politics at board level.

If he maintained this intelligence and know-how about the game, why did his performance drop off, and why didn’t he change things? He was blind-sided. He could accurately dissect any football club, identify their issues and present an interesting solution to overcome them. He could do this with any club, but one exception – Arsenal.

At Arsenal, he could no longer see things objectively, he could no longer see that what he was doing wasn’t working. If you’d presented the exact set of problems present at Arsenal, but changed the name of the club, he’d be able to deliver a succinct analysis of the symptoms and cure. But Arsenal was his club, with a stadium he’d built, a set-up he’d delivered and a set of players he’d signed and coached.

He couldn’t see the club and team for what it really was: underachieving, lacking leadership and tactically naïve. Guess what: we’re all sometimes guilty of this and its particularly applicable in marketing…

What you’ve learned before from the ‘Gurus’

We’ve all been to Breakfast Seminars or Networking events where a so-called digital ‘guru’ has held a talk and stated the obvious. Most people spend a lot of their time surfing the web, with a lot of that time on Social Media. So, you need to be on Social Media! Create a Facebook account, post every other day. Do the same on Twitter but post every day. Oh, and a lot of people like pictures, so set-up an Instagram account and post pictures. Don’t forget YouTube. Do all of this and you’ll have a strong ‘online presence’ where your customers can find you.

What happens then? Lot’s of enquiries?

No, tumbleweed, that’s what happens! Do people buy your product because they see you have a Facebook account? No! You and I know that everyone is online now. We know that and therefore it’s not a great stretch to recognise that there’s a huge opportunity to find customers, or for them to find us.

But, you’re jumping around from tactic to tactic without a real sense of why you’re doing what you’re doing. You’ve tried a few techniques for a short amount of time, and they led to absolutely zero results.

You understood the need to be online – that there were opportunities, but you didn’t really see how having a social media account would lead to enquiries. You paid it lip service because you kept hearing the message that blogging or SEO was a good thing. But you failed to acknowledge a key fact: social media is a platform to communicate, just like radio and television. Whilst elements like when and how often to publish on Facebook can help fine-tune a marketing campaign, the critical question to ask is, why am I communicating with this group of people and what do I hope to achieve out of it.

Consider your own online behaviour

Figure out the ‘why’ and ‘what’, and then move to the ‘how’.

Secondly, everything you did was focused on you and your business. What you wanted to share and show. You didn’t pay any thought to what the person you were trying to reach wanted to see or read. Most small business owners have Arsene Wenger Syndrome when it comes to marketing their own business – we are all online consumers and if you take the time to analyse your own online behaviour, you’ll be able to identify what you do and why. But, when it comes to marketing your own business, you send out messages and content that you’d never engage with if you were on the receiving end.

For example, how many videos have you seen posted on LinkedIn or YouTube of a roofing business (or any other trade) posting a video of them installing their latest roof. The video is paired with the caption that looks something like this: “If you need quality, affordable roofing services, give us a call, we’re here to help.” Or maybe this: “Give us a call for a free no obligation quote.”

Why would anyone want to watch this video? Why would anyone be intrigued enough to click or like your post? You know they wouldn’t, you know that you don’t when you browse as the web as a consumer.

Imagine a dentist filming themselves giving a filling, then ending the video with: “another happy customer, if you have a problem with your teeth and would like me to install a high quality filling, book an appointment today.”

You know that you wouldn’t like that Facebook post. You wouldn’t think “wow, what a great job, I’ll definitely use them the next time I need a filling”. In fact, I’ll follow them on Facebook so I can see more videos like this!” You know this tactic wouldn’t work on you: you don’t want to see someone getting a filling any more than I want to watch you installing a felt roof. But sometimes we struggle to see our own business and marketing activity through the eyes of our customers, particular when we don’t start by asking who and what our customer wants.

By setting a clear marketing strategy and system, you can avoid Arsene Wenger syndrome and begin making the most of the opportunities available to you online.

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