The odds against your internet marketing task force are staggering

hindenburg-20100214-130011I’ve been in several meetings with marketers recently in which one person at the table will say something like “our digital strategy” and then, in a few moments, someone else at the table will start talking about “our internet strategy.” Now you may think “digital” and “internet” mean the same thing, but consider this: If two people are having a conversation and there is a word that could be interpreted two ways, then the chances are only one-in-four that they will understand what each other means.*

Yet there are typically far more than two ways for terms to be interpreted (an “internet” strategy can be a sub-category of a “digital” strategy) — especially when buzzwords and terms are being created daily, as they are whenever it comes to new forms of technology-enabled marketing.

And, of course, there are far more than two people at the table whenever discussions of a company’s internet (or digital) strategy is being discussed.

In fact, usually there’s something called a “task force” gathered ’round the table. At the task force table, you’ll usually find (at least):

1. Several people from the marketing department

2. Several people from the communications department

3. Several people from the IT department

4. Representatives from “stakeholders” in sales, product development, customer service

5. At least three people from the advertising agency

6. At least two people from the PR firm

7. At least one person from “the digital (or internet) marketing company”

8. At least 2-3 consultants who are “someone someone knows” who are gurus in search, social media, analytics or (fill-in-the-blank).

9. At least 2-3 people who “work with” the PR firm, advertising agency or digital/internet marketing firm

10. A couple of developers the IT department works with

With all those people at the table and with all the easy-to-misinterpret buzzwords being bantered about, the odds of anyone being able to communicate anything of value to everyone else, are infinitesibly small.

So what are their odds of such a task force creating something that will make a difference in the lives of their customers — or of the company for whom they work?

Perhaps that’s why innovation — the internet and digital kind — are rarely the result of the work of a task force.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a strong believer in team work and collaboration.

But you rarely get things done when everyone at the table makes up their own rules in support of their own agendas using their own vocabulary.

*If there are two ways you can interpret what I say and two ways I can interpret what you say, our chances of actually understanding one-another are one-in-four.

(Cross-posted on Hammock.com.)