The Accessibility of Knowledge and Doing It Yourself. Is it a good idea?

Image created by Sam Blomley using Blender

Today, anyone can become an “expert” in just about anything – including marketing – in fifteen minutes on the internet. Does that mean we should though?

In the age of social media influencers, digital ninjas, creative evangelists, idea engineers and a long list of other pseudo-titles, it becomes more and more tempting to avoid dishing out the big bucks and save time with a couple of YouTube tutorials and a WikiHow article. So here’s why maybe you shouldn’t “do it yourself”. Why the very availability of knowledge might be a chimera. A mirage. Even, a dangerous one.

The process of learning – serious learning – is a long one, rife with mistakes, do-overs, discoveries and chance successes. To simply follow a guide to doing something holds you back from both the creativity and freedom of thought that real expertise enables.

Or to put it another way, if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything is a nail. When your skill level only lets you diagnose and solve one problem, in the same way, then you can only fix that problem. And trying to fix bigger problems or create serious solutions to wide-ranging problems through a narrow aperture of knowledge can hold you back from sourcing the big ideas that our media-drenched era demands, if you want to stand out.

What’s more, real learning – the type that takes months and years of intensive effort – trains the brain. It develops critical thinking, for one thing. In a world where everything is true for five minutes, even when it patently obviously isn’t true when subjected to critical scrutiny, it helps you to navigate the nonsense.

So while it is productive to understand the processes that you might hire experts to do, (if only to wisely evaluate their suggestions), casually stepping in to replace them is almost always unwise. As consumers and end-users, the interfaces that the world provides – be it hardware or digital tools or design programs – simply aren’t meant to be operated by all of us with the same fidelity that an expert might.

Self-help gurus and motivational speakers constantly implore us to work and work and work, claiming that the only way to find that elusive “success” is to pour thousands of hours into whatever it is that we want to succeed at. Of course this is true, but if success came easily it would be a hollow victory; if everyone was special, then no-one would be. Marketing and advertising is no different.

With all this in mind though, it would be wrong to discourage DIY. A “can do” attitude is one that makes adults independent and keeps us from leaning on our peers for simple tasks and painful chores, but we have to recognise that there comes a point where ‘bodging it’ simply doesn’t cut it. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Even a lot of knowledge, if it is not twinned with commonsense and – most of all – real-world experience.

So here’s a suggestion: swap Do It Yourself for Do It Together.

The idea of Doing it Together is a far more democratic way of working, incorporating the opinions or practice of experts – people with objective, carefully-accumulated knowledge – into your particular use case (the specific problem that you aim to solve).

Jeffrey Davis of Tracking Wonder writes that DIT over DIY offers the same knowledge – if not more – with the added benefits of being more comprehensive, more accessible, quicker and far easier than having to compile knowledge from obscure internet discussions and chapter 7 of a poorly-written book about advertising in the television age.

Customers leaping onto social media with badly designed and inadequately strategised ads is probably the most common mistake we see today. When you hire experts though, you’re paying them not to make your mistakes. And it takes a lot of learning to figure out how much more you still have to learn.

Doing it together is an approach that lets you – the client – collaborate productively with experts so that the solution is the personalised one that you want but still holds the same rich quality that the expert achieves every time – otherwise they wouldn’t still be in business.

I am learning to make furniture at the moment and my best lessons don’t come from any tutorial or book, they come from doing. Patiently. Over time. We all make mistakes and that’s ok. It’s a basic part of learning.

Of course I’m not only referring to furniture or home DIY here. MOP has a combined experience of well over 100 years in advertising and marketing. And that’s just the Directors. We are experts. We have the skills and freedom to provide our clients with “Results. Nothing less.”, and a bucketload of case studies to back that proud claim up.

It makes sense to visit that well, rather than grab a spade and start digging your own.

This blog was written by Sam Blomley who is our current intern, working across all clients and areas of the business. For more information on MOP and our philosophies and experience, just visit www.mo.partners.

#knowledge #training #experts #advertising #marketing #doityourself #doittogether

Author: Stephen Yolland

Director of Creative Strategy and Partner @ Magnum Opus Partners.

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