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Can traditional marketers adjust to digital marketing?

Sometimes I am making a speech and I realize that I am meeting a lot of traditional marketers–people my age (or even I admit, a little younger) who are trying to make the adjustment to digital. And as I am speaking, and explaining concepts, and exhorting people to take a chance and make a change, I realize something. The people that are sitting in front of me are going to be fine. It’s the folks that don’t want to listen that are screwed. It happened to me again last week in Princeton at the executive breakfast for the Greater Philadelphia Senior Executives Group (GPSEG) (slides here). The people in the audience asked great questions. They paid attention. They came in already knowing a lot. But there are many, many others that are trying to slide by–telling themselves that they can retire in five years so they don’t really have to learn this stuff. Those people are wrong–they don’t have five years.

The pace of change is accelerating and technology is driving it. Many areas of life are affected, but marketing is the one I like to talk about most. Think about how much different the world is from five years ago. In 2007, no one was marketing on Facebook. Or Twitter. Or YouTube. Even B2B companies had not heard of LinkedIn. Few companies did anything significant in mobile. Fast forward five years and there are few companies that aren’t doing at least one of these–most have two or more. If you go five years further, who can even imagine what we will be doing then?

But it isn’t the particular tactics or venues that matter. It’s the philosophy. Don’t worry about whether you should be spending on paid search with Google or whether YouTube search grows even faster or whether Facebook does its own search. Just focus on being attractive to searchers wherever they are.

Don’t fixate on which social network is important this month. Instead, focus on creating content that people want to share. They figure out how they want to share it.

Every time you start to feel overwhelmed at the thought of keeping up with a million different tactics, stop. No one can do that, anyway, so why drive yourself nuts? Instead, go back to the core principles. Good content attracts. Good content gets shared. If you focus there, it matters a lot less why it attracted them or how they shared it. Just make sure that you can count everything so you know what is working and what isn’t. Then let ‘er rip.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet 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, a leading digital media marketing consultancy based in New York City. 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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Discussion

  1. Avatar Christian Carlsson

    Great post Mike!

    “Don’t fixate on which social network is important this month. Instead, focus on creating content that people want to share. They figure out how they want to share it.”

    +1

    Btw, owe you a come back. //Christian

  2. […] Can traditional marketers transition to digital marketing? Personally, I think many will not. Here’s Mike Moran’s view. […]

  3. Avatar Bhushan

    Couldn’t agree more with your message here. You can get as involved as you like in all the new, innovative digital marketing channels opening up, but you should always ask yourself if your time would be better spent making your content ‘desirable’, rather than simply ‘discoverable’.

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