As many of you probably will be, I am subscribed to quite a lot of email newsletters in an attempt to keep my fingers on the pulse of many of my interests. Having said that, I doubt I pay attention to 90% of them.
Last week, an article in Marketing Week’s newsletter caught my eye. Mark Ritson wrote an article titled ‘The death of digital is upon us’.
Really? Digital marketing?! In this ever connected world of smart phones and social media? Nah.
The article was quite interesting though, and I have been back a few times to read it as I think it carries a message that as businesses and marketers we may forget from time to time. Digital marketing is nothing more than marketing on a different platform.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that there isn’t a specific skill set needed to be a digital marketer at all. Skills such as an ability to adapt quickly and learn new technologies, buzz words and platforms in a short time scale come in very handy. What I do mean, though, is that you still need the same basic marketing skills in order to market digitally.
How businesses market themselves has changed tremendously over the years, from word of mouth to print advertising through to websites and social media. Technology has massively changed how we as a consumer live our lives, and therefore businesses have had to adapt in order to put themselves in front of us. But isn’t this a key marketing principle? Be where your target audience is?
Back before smart phones, websites and the wonderful thing that is the internet (I seriously don’t know how I survived without it), businesses relied on adverts in the Yellow Pages along with word of mouth from their current customers to grow their business.
These days, the Yellow Pages is online (Yelp anyone?!) and we still rely on word of mouth, or rather ‘recommendations’ as Guy Levine put so succinctly in his presentation at The Big Social Media Conference. At the end of the day, who’s opinion are you going to trust more; a business that has put an advert on the television telling you how amazing their XYZ product is, or your friend on Facebook who has bought said product and loved it? I know which one I’d pick.
Another example is that my other half decided he wanted to buy a weight bench (don’t ask), and narrowed it down to one particular bench. He found this bench on Amazon with lots of genuine reviews saying how great it is. He also found the same bench through a different seller, for about £300 cheaper, with no reviews at all.
When he asked my advice, I said I’d spend the extra money to know I was getting a quality bench (you get what you pay for, right?!). He ignored my advice, bought the cheap one and the it hasn’t lasted very long. Point proven.
In reality, is digital marketing anything other than marketing in a digital landscape? Ultimately marketers need to put their businesses where their potential customers are. It just so happens we are all online. Constantly.
This, of course, does not apply to all businesses. Some will still find that they will gain more business from networking, print advertising, cold calling and so on. But in this day and age, do we trust a business without a digital presence? I know I find it hard to want to use a business without a website where I can have a nosey at what they do. A website almost helps to give them credibility.
In the end, I think businesses do need to be effective in their ‘digital’ marketing, but in order to do so it is important to go back to the marketing basics and put your customer first. Where are they likely to be? What are their interests? Are they online or offline?
To answer the question I put forward in this article’s title, no I do not think digital marketing is already on it’s way out, because digital marketing is traditional marketing on a new platform with new ways to access your potential customers.
Start at the beginning, strip it back to its basics and you can’t really go wrong.