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Brighter, cleaner, cheaper marketing

I spoke before an interesting group last night at the Westchester Advertising Club, a 40-year-old organization of marketers from that suburban county north of New York City. My slides for my talk, “The New Internet Marketing,” are here, but regular readers have seen most of this stuff before. What I found fascinating was some of the conversations I had last night, especially one in particular.


A veteran marketer approached me after the session, after everyone else had spoken to me. He looked as though he had seen it all over his years in the marketing game, but he started out by sheepsihly admitting, “I know nothing about the Internet.” Still, he had decided to come to the meeting, knowing what I would be talking about, so that shows me that he still has that desire to learn.
He went on to compliment me on my talk, but then his concerns came pouring out. “You said that Internet marketing is still marketing, but it seems very different to me—like there are more steps. You said that we have to address the problems that our customers have so that they find our message, but that could be lots of problems. I am accustomed to skipping that step and just talking about ‘brighter, cleaner, cheaper’.”
It’s a great question.
And he’s right. All marketers have been doing “brighter, cleaner, cheaper” marketing for decades. Forget what the customer needs, because we don’t really know what each customer needs. Instead talk about what our message is and hope that the customer whose need it fulfills will figure it out.
He’s right. Internet marketing has an extra step of appealing to people based on their problems. And yes, there could be multiple problems that each need separate pages—separate pitches. He really is right.
But the Internet also helps you skip steps.
Because you can target based on problem (need), you can skip a lot of the “qualify the lead” steps. And you can target based on where the customer is in the sales cycle—seach marketing keywords can reveal the early stage from the comparison stage from the buy stage. And you can answer John Wannamaker’s lament, “Half of my advertising spending is wasted, but I don’t know which half.” On the Internet, you do. And you can stop spending it next week.
So, Internet marketing is different from the “brighter, cleaner, cheaper” marketing of other media, but not dramatically so. You still segment your markets, understand them, and send your message. You do those things differently than in traditional marketing, but you still do them. On top of that, you can target more granularly (by need and by moment in the buying cycle) and you can measure the results of what you do (the way direct marketers do).
So, ask yourself if you’re ready to try to apply what you know to something know. That man, with all that experience, was ready to try. As he left me, he said, “Now I have to go wrestle with this.” Internet marketing isn’t always comfortable, but it’s sure more comfortable than blowing your business by avoiding it.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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