In preparation for my next few posts, I wanted to see what was out on the Internet in terms of what "experts" think are the basic rules for Internet marketing. I think this is a worthy research, because from our experience, we may have to redefine what Internet marketing is all about in Puerto Rico. Before we get into that, let's first examine the State of the Internet Marketing in Puerto Rico. While I touched on this before I focused more on Internet advertising.
Unfortunately Puerto Rico has fallen victim to group think when it comes to Internet Marketing. While I've not met a lot of the Internet Marketers from the advertising side of the equation, I probably know everyone who is anyone on the technical side of the equation. No one I've met has a clue about what Internet Marketing is really about.
In a way it's been sort of a perfect storm for coming to the wrong conclusion. Internet Marketing sits at the cross-section of technology and marketing. Unfortunately that cross-section has become a no-mans land. Think about it, marketing on the Internet is the first medium that involves any real dependence on computers. How much would an advertising company need to know about creating a print ad, radio ad, or television ad? They merely needed to conceive of a creative approach and then implement.
The Internet is a unique medium
Then comes the Internet, which is fundamentally an online print medium (HTML = hyper text markup language, markup means applying styles to text) on steroids. However when you throw in the whole hyper text element, mix in audio, video, and animation, you end up with an entirely unique medium. However, the real difference is that last word in HTML, language. When you refer to a language on computers it only means one thing, programming. And now that's a horse of different color all together. Bottom line, in order for a marketer to use this new medium most effectively, they HAVE to understand a few things about the Internet and programming.
Hello marketers, a word to the wise. Just because you're not interested in computers, software development, or the Internet you HAVE to learn how this medium works if you are going to use it effectively. Oh yeah and don't think of this trio of technologies as if they are from the next Harry Potter movie. They are not magic.
On the contrary, they are the exact opposite, they are pure science, computer science that is. Ones and zeros people, nothing more, nothing less. Throw in a large heaping of mathematics and there you have it. And believe me, it may seem complex, but there are rules that computers MUST follow; once you start to get a handle on those rules, you'll be on your way. One more thing, please pay attention while we're making an attempt to explain these rules to you. We can see when your eyes gloss over; we know it means you're thinking about your Gucci handbag or the new BMW you want to buy, instead of listening to our techno-babble.
11 years of disgrace
On the other side of this cross section, we have 11 years of almost total disgrace. When the web designers and developers in Puerto Rico should have been leading the charge of teaching everyone about this new medium, we had a bunch of unqualified jerks hell bent on a quick buck. Collectively this group of charlatans have screwed more companies than you can imagine and forever polluted their customer's perception of the Internet.
In addition to that, techies (web developers and programmers) are typically geeks. Their view of everything is from the technology perspective. They might learn one technology and then that's it. They become a hammer. And when you're a hammer all problems look like nails. So very few take the time to learn a little about marketing so that they help their clients to understand more about the Internet and can then begin to communicate more effectively with them.
The majority of these geeks ramble on about HTML, CSS, ASP, or an endless stream of other technobabble. Earth to geeks! No one understands what the hell you're talking about! Ever heard that advice, explain it to me as if I were in 4th grade? Use it! If you can't effectively explain to your clients WHY a technology is beneficial in simple terms, then you need to do more homework.
No man's land
In the end, Internet Marketing in Puerto Rico has become a business specialty where neither of the sides is willing to meet in the middle. Therefore a huge canyon has emerged between them. This canyon makes it incredibly difficult to communicate; neither speaks the others language; each sees the challenge from a completely different perspective; one side is only interested in the money; and one side has no trust in the other. Therefore, all attempts crash against the walls of the canyon and are blown away with the wind.
So listen up everyone, Internet Marketing is not:
- Merely reconceiving your print ads so that they look pretty on the Internet. Of course this is mandatory, but it is the starting point not the end result.
- About just one campaign, it's about building your brand. As long as your company is in business, that should be your number one priority.
- Just a website that you finish and then NEVER update until the next marketing or IT director decides it's time to change the site. Internet marketing involves not only consistenly publishing new content, but it also requires monitoring the effectiveness of that content or advertising and adjusting your priorities accordingly. The days of a "Field of Dreams" , build it and they will come, are over.
- A oneway communication medium. You see the Internet, like no other medium before it, actually allows the consumer to respond IMMEDIATELY to your content and advertisements. Oh, and by the way, just becuase you use Adobe Flash on your site does not make it a two way communication. Making it interactive is just the start; you need to get feedback, you need to measure responses, track your traffic, and respond with content that delivers what consumers are seeking.
- Achieved by focusing merely on your website and no other site on the Internet. No website is an island, all must bow down before the mightly search engines, the blogosphere, and now social networking sites.
- A static target. What works today, might not tomorrow. Google constantly changes their search algorithm, you fall off the first page of results and now you're toast. You've got to be constantly learning what is working and adapt as quickly as possible to leverage new technologies, new sites, or new techniques.
- Not about implementing features it's about impacting behavior. If consumers are not visiting your site, clicking on your ads, or consuming your content, your'e not conducting marketing, your publishing. Best leave that to the professionals and stick to building your brand.
- About cost effectiveness. You really do get what you pay for. If you accept or offer the lowest price, then you're going to be missing the necessary business practices to ensure a high quality result. Part of which are tools that make it easy to keep your site alive once it's launched.
- Does not involve advertising a web site offline. Ok, follow me here, if Internet Marketing assumes consumers taking immeidate action, how does someone driving 65 m.p.h take immediate action on a URL posted on a billboard? Oh sure you're going to impact a few consumers who get stuck in a tapon in front of the billboard, but I submit that those same dollars used online would have greater impact, where people are ALREADY on the Internet.