Archive for April, 2013

07 Apr 2013

Thin Thinking and Digital Business Integration

No Comments Entrepreneurship, Uncategorized

Copper Wire Discovery

A friend shared this joke with me via email the other day.

After digging to a depth of 10 feet last year outside of New York City, New York scientists found traces of copper cable dating back 100 years. They came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 100 years ago.

Not to be outdone by the New Yorkers, in the weeks that followed, a Los Angeles, California archaeologist dug to a depth of 20 feet somewhere just outside Oceanside. Shortly after, a story in the LA Times read: “California archaeologists report a finding of 200 year old copper cable and have concluded that our ancestors had an advanced high-tech communications network a hundred years earlier than the New Yorkers.”

One week later, a newspaper in New Orleans reported the following. “After digging down about 30 feet deep near a Bayou in the community of Lafayette Louisiana, Boudreaux, a self-taught archaeologist, reported that he found… absolutely nothing. Boudreaux has therefore concluded that 300 years ago, Louisiana had already gone wireless.”

Beware of thin thinking and foolish conclusions

It may seem completely foolish to think that professionals in any industry would come to conclusions anywhere near that stupid, but you’d be amazed. Just think how highly educated, well paid marketers looked at ‘last click attribution’ (many still do!) because they have no ability to measure anything else. Simply because you haven’t got the required tracking capabilities is no reason to use metrics you already know to be completely wrong or useless. Yet, we do it all the time. How many times have you heard, or worse said yourself, “It’s not good, but it’s all we’ve got. It’s better than nothing.” Sometimes it’s much worse than nothing! A “use what we’ve got” mentality can easily lead us to complacency and lull us into thinking we’re measuring something valuable and applying analytics-driven wisdom, when in truth, we are merely deluding ourselves and inexorably harming the enterprise we are trying to support. We, like the Emperor, have no clothes!

Consider the idea that online conversions have nothing to do with offline advertising or social communication. Do you really think an online purchase of more than a million pairs of blue jeans is made because of an Affiliate Marketing program coupled with a nice PPC campaign, re-marketing and a dash of social media thrown into the mix? Really? And seeing your friends and colleagues wearing those jeans, perhaps hearing compliments on them, as well as seeing movie stars wear them in print media magazines or on the stage has nothing to do with it? And getting input from salespeople in shops has nothing to do with it? Of course it has PLENTY to do with those sales!

That’s why there’s such a large conversation about the decline and probable demise of Best Buy. Shoppers want to look, touch and inspect products before they buy. Best Buy is serving as the showroom for every online etailer on the planet. Without a reliable revenue stream of their own, of course, they won’t be able to continue to serve that role. Perhaps all the online retailers will have to chip in to build, staff and maintain ‘Best Buys’ and share in the expense (as there is obviously no profit) of running them worldwide. Perhaps it will simply become a marketing expense leveraged through an industry association or some similar organization.

Offline and online media, paid and unpaid, play a cohesive, connected role in bringing about the final sale of just about everything these days. Even buying an SEOmoz PRO account, which is a 100% online purchase for a 100% online service with no product involved at all, is dependent on word of mouth referrals and in-person first touch and mid-funnel experience with the brand at conferences and events.

My point is simple. If you are charged with marketing a brand, be it large or small, have not only the good sense, but the personal integrity to acknowledge and act on the fact that the sales funnel is a cohesive multi-faceted process comprised of a series of interactions with the brand, online and off. Continuing to silo markting activities into online, offline, paid, earned, social, sales, and customer service teams and departments is not only foolish, it’s deadly.

The time for terminology such as ‘digital marketing’ is long over. Ditto for digital communications and ‘digital’ everything else. It’s just marketing, communications, and everything else. “Digital” is just about new tools and toys. It’s long past time for major brands in particular and SMBs who wish to thrive in the coming century to look at the larger picture of business structure, product/service design and manufacturing/deployment as well as communication with customers in order to integrate these new ‘tools and toys’ into their processes which inform them about what’s broken, what needs innovating/improving, what to invent and sell next year, and perhaps most importantly, which of their products/services have reached the end of its life cycle.