SEO · Social Media

Attention Traditional Companies: Stop Trying!

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been hesitant on writing this article because I felt that I might end up feeding the ranting mill, but to save you from all the twitching and wincing, I felt that a simple statement will drive my point:

“Traditional companies/marketers should stop trying. Period.”

Trying to go online that is.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not discouraging traditional businesses from going digital. Though my opinion is that they should stop trying to be and start be-ing (digital).

As good old Albert Einstein could have said it, [traditional companies and their marketing people] should try not to be a [business] of success, but a [business]  of value.

In this article, I have no intention of thoroughly dissecting and discussing traditional business sense and conventional marketing methods–that’s a whole different story. Instead, I’d like for this article to serve as a springboard for discussion and learning on why many traditional companies fail to execute successfully online, and how we, as web marketers can help them bridge the gap.

Why am I writing this again?

My frustration, and apparently my inspiration, for this post is coming from traditional businesses and marketers who are both arrogant and reluctant about widening their periphery and understanding. They don’t realize that they fall short, that their egotism is causing them to cling on nothing more but mere tradigital practices, and that at the same time, they make themselves easy prey for faux digital agencies.

Let’s be honest, who’s not sick and tired of half-baked, lack-luster attempts to transition on the web? If that’s the case, just drop everything and save everybody the time and tension. Why even bother pulling together a team of “web experts” only to trample on their expertise at the end of the day?

There’s no need to make up excuses to mask the mindset that “Pfft! I’ve built my business with my bare hands! My brick and mortar strategies worked just fine 50 years ago!”

If you work in/with a traditional company who’s trying, not even striving, then you know what I’m talking about.

“…it seems these days like everyone is chasing after the ‘low-hanging fruit’…People need to stop looking for easy answers and start committing to their businesses and learning from their customers.” – Dr. Pete Meyers

3 Mindsets that Need to Change

1. Business Goals v.s. User Experience

If I build. They will come. –Oh please! Not again!

Business objectives (primarily monetization schemes) usually trample on User Experience.  A lot of traditional companies and marketers are guilty of this because they perceive that the Internet and/or their digital properties are but real estate for promotional material. They don’t see that as much as their products and services are brands that cater to their customers, so as their digital presence.

The thinking that the website is inexhaustible real estate should die. The website is a brand, a window, an avenue, where your business and your customers interact. Having said that, User Experience is important and it needs to be studied and implemented carefully. Businesses should realize that it’s not that different when they want their products and services to leave a lasting impression on their customers–the website is an extension of their brand.

On the other hand, user experience shouldn’t take full control of the online presence, in fact, it should work hand in hand with business objectives. Both should find common ground where they support each other because at the end of the day, both business and customer should be satisfied.

More importantly, as a way of thinking, traditional people should realize that there’s no shorter end of the stick. All that’s needed is balance, moderation, and a lot of testing for efficiency and progress.

2. Business Sense and Marketing Methodology

Drop the megaphone because no one’s listening!

We’re in the era of two-way interactivity where one-way is not at all okay. Both traditional companies and marketers need to realize that they need to humanize their business. Long gone are the days when brands easily commanded consumers to do as they please–in order to do that today, businesses need to employ human qualities people can relate to and interact with.

Being readily successful and popular (as a company) are but bonuses in building/expanding your business online. Hence, companies need to capitalize on that advantage. However, traditional marketing methods don’t work especially that the consumer has complete control of the communication lines (the medium). Internet and mobile connectivity have given people a voice, and there’s no question companies to need to pause and listen.

Offline business success (even dominance) doesn’t guarantee online success, your online value and purpose do. As such, they should be defined.

What value am I giving through my online presence and what am I supposed to get out of it?

3. Search, Social Media, Content, and the Appification of the Web

There’s no science behind that!

Don’t you hear that most of the time? Well at least in my case, I hear it quite often from brand managers and editorial. I hate it. Makes me wonder why they’ve hired me in the first place.

Anyways,  as an SEO and Social Media Strategist, it’s not that easy to rally for the things we know especially when we’re dealing with the kind of persona I’ve illustrated above. If traditional companies and marketers fail at shifting their mindset towards a wider perspective, then there’s no way we’ll get to the point where we can discuss online strategy freely.

Traditional people at the very least need to have an appreciation of the fundamentals of the web, the same way they perfectly understand their offline systems (e.g. buyer, supplier, shipping, etc.). In other words, they have to immerse themselves in the medium. I find it hypocritical that a lot of these traditional people are incompetent when it comes to digital media while in fact, they use mobile phones, computers, tablets, email, and social networks almost as if by default.

Now the question is, is it a matter of them going out of of their comfort zones or a matter of their perspective seeing the digital medium as a by-the-way? Either way, it requires a mindset change.

Stop Trying and start Be-ing

I know that my contention is somewhat subjective, and it may lead to lots of disagreement. However, I believe that the act of trying is a distant and passive way of doing things and is already bound to have a 50% success rate, maybe less. When you try out something, it’s either you’ll end up liking it or not–the act in itself is an expression of hesitation.

If a company is dedicated to being of value and purpose online, then there’s no act of trying whatsoever. It’s the act of striving that will result to be-ing, or in simpler terms becoming a contributing presence online. Some would even equate trying with experimentation, but then the act of experimentation seeks to find answers and solutions to problems, not to mention that in a way, it places science behind the online business and marketing methodology.

The digital medium is already well established and we know that.  It’s constantly moving forward, and we always need to adapt. Technologies change, behaviors change.

If a business has potential to strive online, it’s backing company should support it. The company shouldn’t hinder growth and exploration through the act of trying, as trying will get you nowhere but mediocrity.

Obviously, this is not the type of SEO and/or Social Media post that you might have expected. Truth be told, it’s more of a business philosophy skewed article. Nonetheless, I wanted to share my thoughts regarding this matter because it greatly affects specialized and interconnected fields such as SEO, Social Media Marketing, Usability, and what have you.

Let’s start a discussion.

On our side of the court, things might work out just fine, but what happens when we throw the ball on the other side? What steps do you take to ensure that your clients and/or the companies we work for, especially the traditional ones, appreciate the tasks you’ve laid for them as a digital expert/specialist? How do you weave in and out of the corporate jungle to get things done? More so, how do you educate the rest of the workforce?

 Attention Traditional Companies: Stop Trying!
Jurgen Estanislao is a professional SEO and a passionate digital strategist. He is also the author of SEO Taoist, an online marketing philosophy blog and the founder of Little Caviar--an Asian street wear label.
 Attention Traditional Companies: Stop Trying!

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12 thoughts on “Attention Traditional Companies: Stop Trying!

  1. I definitely agree that websites need to take a serious look at their user-experience and ask themselves “If I came to this site, would I really want to stick around?” The simple fact is that a good user-experience is going to help with your business goals (whether it is leads, conversions, etc). You don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. A website’s goals should be clear on every page, and the visitor should be directed down an appropriate path that they are willing to be lead down.

    1. I most definitely agree with you Nick. The problem really is that there are people who just can’t connect the dots. In this field, every aspect should drive you towards the business goals, which is why you have to define it head on,

      In the industry where I’m currently in, they see everything in a very compartmentalized approach, no synthesis whatsoever.

      Appreciate your comment!

  2. @Nick: I was just about to write the same thing! So much of successful online presence is a streamlined user experience. The fewer clicks between the beginning and end of a session (hopefully ending in sale) the better you look in the eyes of your users. The better you look, the more chance there is that they will come back in the future.

  3. I think traditional companies trying to go online is not a bad act. However, what we need to change is how we deal with user experience and interaction. As what nick said, we need to build a website where people would want to linger.

    1. Hi Brad,

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, I agree with you that them trying to go online is not a bad act at all, the common problem I realize when dealing with them is when they still wear their traditional hats when they lay their expectation and requirements on the ground, which in our case might be a big problem.

      Ultimately, I do think that they should try learning about the medium while at the same time allowing the “experts” do their jobs.

      Thanks again!

  4. Great article, I’m experiencing this first hand as an in-house SEO beating on the heads of traditional marketers where the most important things are more visitors and more revenue. Forget about customer service, usability, user experience, innovation, interaction, customer loyalty, landing page optimization, etc., etc., just give me more traffic!!! That’s your job!!! I give up, time for a new job.

    1. Hey Jr, you’re spot on, lots of in-house people experience this a alot–really makes you wonder why they got you in the first place right?

      Sad thing is that they bask in the fear of not knowing, which to me in fact is not a difficult problem to solve.

      Appreciate your comment!

  5. I know, I’ll forward this article to each of them and see if they even recognize my comment. My guess is that they wont even read the post!

  6. Hi Jurgen, I agree with your article and thanks very much for writing it.

    As a marketer that has been in advertising for over 30 years. I fully understand that our business is a living breathing thing subject to constant changes all of which I am happy and excited to fully embrace. Now convincing my clients is a whole other story. To me an Ego is no different than a deep rooted emotional fear of not being able to perform. That is why changes are often rejected.

    1. Hi Janette, thank you very much for your appreciation.

      Like what I’ve shared with Jr, clients bask in the fear of not knowing, which in my opinion is a problem with a direct and practical solution–humble yourself and learn.

      Thanks again!

  7. Hi Jurgen, I agree with your article and thanks very much for writing it.

    As a marketer that has been in advertising for over 30 years. I fully understand that our business is a living breathing thing subject to constant changes all of which I am happy and excited to fully embrace. Now convincing my clients is a whole other story. To me an Ego is no different than a deep rooted emotional fear of not being able to perform. That is why changes are often rejected.

  8. Methods that will be used to achieve the project’s goals should be clarified with clients:

    - how it will help the campaign
    - expected or estimated results from it

    Educating your clients is as much as important as to training your workforce. Given that it’s not all about traffic. These days, it’s more vital for any business to know how they can make use of that traffic (in terms of activity, lead generation, revenue, etc…)