When you’re lost in the forest, and a digital marketing expert offers to help…

If you have a business, or you advise or write for business, the web can be an amazing, but thoroughly confusing place.

Whether you want to learn more about email marketing, sales funnels, social media or chatbot marketing, there are a thousand experts ready and waiting to help you.

The trouble is, which experts should you follow? Which one teaches or offers the approach that will work best for your audience?

And, of course, you have to figure out which are the true experts, and which are the weekend gurus who likely know less than you do.

Here is my take on this, in three steps.

Step 1: Invest time on research and then stay the course.

Whenever I want to learn something new – and that happens a lot – I do a deep dive into the topic. Really deep. Way down the rabbit hole.

While learning about the topic, I’m also trying to figure out who the true experts are.

I’m quick to dismiss self-proclaimed “experts” who are full of noise, drama and urgency. I’m looking for the real thing.

And who can I trust? Who feels like a good match for what I’m trying to learn and achieve?

Once I’ve found a couple of experts I feel good about, I stick with them. I stay the course.

I don’t totally ignore everyone else. I keep an open mind. But my two top choices become my keel and my compass. They keep me moving forward in a clear direction. No distractions. Minimal noise.

Step 2: Remember that you know your audience and your vision the best.

A while back I invested in some advice from an expert in one of the major social media channels.

He’s widely respected in his field of expertise, and he and I got on really well together.

But… although his advice was sound, and proven in many ways… its wasn’t a good fit for my brand and my audience.

I should have figured this out on my own, and much faster than I did.

In fact, I was finally tipped off by a customer of mine who emailed me and asked what had happened to my “voice”. He wanted to know why I was sounding “off” on that particular channel.

The takeaway here is that while experts may know a lot more than you do about various aspects of digital marketing, you’ll always know more about your own audience, brand and voice.

Don’t let outside experts mess with that.

Step 3: Take this advice from a Norwegian soldier deep in the forest.

Back when I was in my late teens I went on a school trip to Norway.

We were guests of the Norwegian army, way out in the back of beyond.

One day we were sent out in small groups, hiking to certain points in the forest. We had to find our way there, and back, armed with a map and compass. (No smartphones back then!)

I don’t remember much about that day.

But I do remember the advice the army officer gave us before we left.

He said:

“This is wild and largely uncharted territory. If you look at your map and it disagrees with the land in front of you, always remember it’s the land that is right. Not the map.”

That piece if advice hit me like a hammer blow.

I have always remembered and lived by what he said that day. Those few words have had a huge impact on my life. It’s so easy to put too much faith in the map. “But look, here it is, in black and white. It must be true!”

And yes, I apply it to my work as a digital copywriter and marketer.

“When advice from the experts is at odds with what you see happening in front of your eyes, it’s what you’re seeing that is right.”

An insight to live by. At least, for me it is.

5 thoughts on “When you’re lost in the forest, and a digital marketing expert offers to help…”

  1. What a great story this is! I will heed that advice.
    Words like “deep in the forest” captured my attention. I love stories.

  2. Nick,
    Treasured wisdom, elegantly stated. “Always remember it’s the land that is right. Not the map.”
    Love it- thanks so much!

  3. Nick, hi! Your words with deep thoughts and insights…always a pleasure to read and a treasure to keep. The map with so much direction to follow to reach a destination, can be overwhelming and confusing. We lose focus, we tend not to believe what we see with our own eyes…it’s right in front of us, we just have to believe and trust what we’re seeing is right. Love the story and the true message, thank you!


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