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?
Subscribe to SEJ
Get our daily newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!