SXSW is overwhelming madness, as usual. I had 15 meetings already, more than 10 to go. It’s easy to google the person in advance or check their profiles.

The problem is, we tend to pretend to know others based on public information. What we share on social profiles is not really meant to be a real representation of ourselves. When you use the tools to create closeness and familiarity with the other person, you cheat just a little bit and try to trick your way into their emotional self.

It’s a common technique, used by traditional direct marketers. You offer a product/service based on previous purchases. Direct Marketers track the success diligently and optimize based on performance. When digital marketing took off, marketers tried to copy that direct response technique. Unfortunately, they were not as disciplined as their traditional counterparts and made bad assumptions.

You look at outdoor sports sites, let’s send you an email with a background featuring the great outdoors.

You visit a site for car enthusiasts and you’ll be considered one of them until the end of time. (Or until you delete your cookie.)

In real life, it’s often better to start a conversation without assuming anything, just being curious and open. In the digital marketing world, many digital campaigns don’t succeed because they are based on false assumptions.

If you want to be successful, you need to be sure that your assumptions are right. Or you better start out with a blank slate.