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Being an online marketer in an offline world

This past week, I had the honor of serving as a guest for the weekly Twitter #SEOchat gathering. It was great to have an opportunity to interact with a variety of marketers and discuss SEO analytics as well as a variety of other tangential marketing-related topics.

Sadly, one of the things that stuck out to me the most was a particular individual that seemed to have an extremely conservative and non-progressive outlook on interactive marketing and technology in general. In a nutshell, this individual was convinced that things like measurement (e.g. analytics) have only marginal value to a marketer and was also convinced that online channels like search and social are destined for some sort of a retraction as the world returns to a more offline-based way of life and offline channels retain their crown as the corner-stones of marketing and advertising.

Yes, I’m serious.

But as mind-boggling as this type of stance seems to an individual like me that’s knee deep in all things digital, I felt that there was a valuable lesson to be learned. Actually, two lessons:

  1. There are still many people that share this perspective (e.g. that offline will continue to trump online) and what’s even more scary is that a lot of these folks hold posts as executive decision-makers at large corporations
  2. Instead of ridiculing people that have this point of view (which most folks, including myself, are guilty of doing) the correct approach is to help these folks make a new decision based on new information

I can share literally dozens of examples of executives at Fortune 500-caliber organizations who have expressed fairly similar perspectives. And it’s not like these are dumb people. Instead, more often than not, they are individuals that got their degrees during a time when the internet was little more than a military experiment. Moreover, they are individuals that have literally built their careers around offline channels like television and print, and therefore have very deep-rooted psychological ties to these channels and their antiquated methodologies.

If you’re a marketer faced with a client (or employer) that shares some or all of the viewpoints I’ve mentioned above, it’s important that you fight the urge to ridicule, because the last time I checked, powerful decision-makers don’t enjoy belittlement. Instead, focus on ways tell a story that helps them gradually grasp what online channels can do for them today as well as helping them grasp how technology will transform the few remaining offline marketing channels into just new forms of online, interactive marketing.

By providing these conservative types with a series of small, measurable wins on the online marketing front (e.g. obvious increases in ROI) as well as providing them with credible anecdotes that show how offline marketing is quickly going the way of a the dodo bird, you’ll be able to gain trust, change minds, and ultimately make a big impact for your client.

And that’s what being a great marketer is all about.

 

P.S. I also wanted to give a shout out to the folks that organize #socialchat, which is another great Twitter gathering for enterprise marketers (Mondays and Thursdays at 9pm)

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  • http://www.bedouininteractive.com Cory Haldeman

    It’s funny. I stumbled upon this post as I was just mentally venting my frustration about the psychological dependence of holding on to “things that worked in the past”. I live in Telluride Colorado and most of the people I chat with and potential clients I sit down with seem to think that analytics, social media and SEO are marginal channels and that the only way to succeed is through TV & print.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for chiming in, Cory! I hope that this post helped you with your venting process. Telluride isn’t the only place where the majority of business owners and marketers hold that somewhat delusional viewpoint.