When you think about how fast things change in the world of marketing and communications these days, it really is pretty amazing.
For most of us, it’s hard to remember what things were like before the Internet. I remember a meeting I attended in 1994 with the marketing folks at a large bank to talk about their print newsletter program. Our conversation shifted to this new thing called “the Internet” and who had actually been online yet (I hadn’t). We all gathered around a PC terminal while one of the bank marketers tried (unsuccessfully) to get online with her Netscape Navigator browser and dial-up modem.
But things took off quickly from there. The publishing company I worked for at the time soon convened a company-wide meeting to demonstrate to everyone the magical wonders of this new medium called the World Wide Web. Task forces were quickly formed to create a company website and online newsletter product that was dubbed — quite cleverly, I thought — the @Netletter.
In the roughly two decades since, the Internet has changed everything about sales, marketing and communications. Starting in the late 1990s, the initial wave of static websites was replaced by Web 2.0 sites that allowed user interactivity. In the early 2000s, e-commerce exploded as purchasing items online became as commonplace as buying them in stores.
Then in 2004, Mark Zuckerberg famously launched TheFacebook.com (soon shortened to just Facebook.com) from his college dorm room. YouTube and Twitter followed over the next couple of years, setting the stage for the social media phenomenon that has become all the rage among Internet marketers today.
Unlimited Options: Good or Bad?
Between the World Wide Web, email and social media, companies today have a seemingly unlimited bevy of options when it comes to online marketing. While choice is good, there’s a point at which this can become a problem.
Sometimes, clients I talk to start to get excited about all the different online tools and social media channels they can use in their marketing. “OK, we’re going to post this article on our home page in a PDF and then email it to our database. Then we’ll tweet it out to our Twitter followers, post it on our Facebook page, link to it from our blog and …”
Whoa there, Nelly — slow down and take a breath!
I’m not saying that these activities aren’t good. They are, in and of themselves, and if you’ve got the time and expertise to do all of them well, go for it.
But notice my little qualifier in that last sentence — do all of them well. I’ve seen some companies — especially small businesses and solo professionals — try to incorporate every type of online and social media marketing platform and simply get overwhelmed. As a result, they end up performing a whole bunch of different online marketing activities, but not doing any one of them particularly well.
Here’s how my friend Michael Katz, the founder of Blue Penguin Development, puts it: “The problem with marketing in the 21st century is that there are too many options. As a result, many companies dabble in a little bit of everything out of concern for somehow missing an opportunity.
“I’ve got a better idea: Pick three things and do them really well and consistently. You need a simple, repeatable, effective approach to marketing that won’t take over your life. Whether these things are high-tech, low-tech or no-tech doesn’t really matter so long as you do them well — and do them religiously.”
When it comes to the marketing of your business, Michael adds, “you don’t get any points for participation — you only get points for results. So while it’s fine to try your hand at all the new cutting-edge online and social media marketing tools, the platform itself isn’t the point. Instead, determine what the platform can do for your business.”
My Three Things
For me personally, I’ve decided to focus my marketing efforts on my newsletter, my blog and search engine optimization (SEO) on my website. I make sure to send my newsletter out on time (or pretty close to it!) every month, and I just created a blog section on my newly redesigned website. And I stay on top of my SEO to make sure I’m ranking high on all the major search engines for my optimized keyword phrases.
Oh, and I also have a solid LinkedIn profile page, but to me, that’s table stakes for any professional today. “But what about Facebook and Twitter?” you might be thinking. To be honest, I’ve been meaning to create a business Facebook page but haven’t gotten around to it yet.
And as for Twitter, I’ll admit that I still don’t really get it from a marketing perspective. I’m sure a social media expert could explain its marketing benefits. But for now, Twitter falls into a lower tier of marketing priorities for my business.