The definitive reason why definitive guides aren’t really definitive…

Let me share a personal secret with you dear reader. I’ll whisper it to you:

I collect definitive guides

It’s true. I download each one that arrives in my inbox and save them into a folder. And that’s where they stay, because I rarely read them. They’re usually so subjective and full of fluff, it takes too long to find any worthwhile stuff.

I use a false name and an email address I reserve just for subscriptions. It helps to redirect the inevitable automated follow-up by a computer, and in very few cases, by a human.

Nobody ever calls though. Last year, after using the “Premium” LinkedIn service without getting any benefit, I didn’t renew my subscription. Nobody called to ask why, or to re-sell it to me. Seems LinkedIn believes people don’t need to deal with people in B2B marketing.

Strangely, while I had the subscription, each time I opened my account, I was made an offer to subscribe to the Premium service to which I was already subscribed. One has to question LinkedIn’s marketing automation.

But back to definitive guides.

The following is typical of the opening paragraphs in many of these guides.

“With new marketing channels and technologies popping up every day, marketers must adapt and evolve their analytics strategies, skills, and solutions to survive. As big data becomes increasingly critical for informed decision-making, marketers and their organizations will find themselves along a spectrum of analytical maturity.”

That’s a concern. Nobody I know wants to find themselves on a spectrum of analytical maturity. Most, like me, have no idea what it even means.

But, given that everyone in the industry agrees we live in constantly changing times, with new marketing channels and technologies popping up every day, how can any guide be definitive? By definition, it’s out of date the day it’s published.

If you claim the reason for publishing a definitive guide is constant change, then the guide is only as current as the most recent change? By the publisher’s own reasoning, the guide cannot be definitive, except at a very small moment in time, or to justify the publisher’s self-serving purpose.

Maybe the name of these guides should be changed to reflect the truth? Here’s a suggestion:

Title: An Indefinitive Guide To <insert marketing topic>

Subhead: A self-serving opinion about <insert marketing topic> designed to convince you to buy our marketing stuff. Best before <insert date>

This is an honest description and puts a timeframe to indicate the guide’s currency, given it will be out of date pretty quickly and by definition, no longer definitive.

Hmmm. There could be an opportunity here. Maybe I could publish the definitive guide to publishing indefinitive guides?

Where’s my definitive guide on how to write…

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