It should be no surprise after my last post, but until local marketing professionals "get-it," they will never be able to really reap the full potential of the Internet for communicating with consumers. Did you notice that I used "with" instead of "to?"
I'm not here to try and convince anyone that the Internet is the be all, to end all, of marketing media options. It isn't. However, it MUST be an integral, if not dominant piece of any marketing campaign.
So even though we all talk about how wonderful the Internet is and we expound upon it's wonders, advertising on the Internet in Puerto Rico still remains nearly non-existent. Why is that?
A simple root cause
I think it essentially starts with simple misunderstanding. From my experience, you don't trust what you don't understand. Simply, advertisers and marketers don't use the Internet more because they don't really understand how it works. They also don't understand how master marketers use the Internet successfully.
Why do I think this is the root cause? Three reasons:
- Probably most importantly, in general, most companies (executives) don't believe that technology is a strategic asset. Frankly, how is a marketer going to understand the Internet, when most of them think that computers are magical? Again, same root cause, you don't trust (technology) what you don't understand.
There is a related observation that may also contribute to this. In general, most local executives will throw manpower at a problem long before they will use technology. I'd say this proves my fundamental theory. Executives understand people, and while wages have been rising in Puerto Rico over the past 20 years, it is still probably "cheaper" to throw low cost workers at a problem then any other possible solution.
- As I recently mentioned, due to a zero-sum mentality, most Puerto Rican Internet users resist participating on the Internet. So, it is an easy extrapolation to conclude, if marketing professionals don't participate on the Web, then they won't include it within their campaigns. Go with what you know, right? Nevermind that few consistently "measure" the effectiveness of advertising, if my competitor is advertising in the Dia, so will I.
- Finally, most people don't like to admit they don't understand something. It makes them feel like they look bad. So many executives will uh-hum, and yes their way through a presentation and never ask a question that might actually expose themselves as not understanding what is being said.When smart people resist asking questions to save face, it is really bad for business.
I'm afraid that there is not a magic bullet to kill these three contributing reasons why Internet advertising hasn't exploded in Puerto Rico. However, eliminating the lack of technology use in companies and having viability and profitability over-power an executive's self-perception, are out of my league. There are just too many hidden cultural barriers to expect rapid (any?) change in these trends.
The bottom line about Internet marketing is obvious. In order to understand the Internet and Web 2.0, you HAVE TO PARTICIPATE. There is just no other way for someone to learn this stuff except from first hand experience.
If your company is struggling with marketing on the Internet, fire all of your senior executives and replace them with teenagers. No, okay then, all of your senior executives must spend a lot of time online to experience the Internets for themselves. (It might also help if they changed their frame of reference and approached it like a young child, you know curious, inquisitive, innocent; then they might make some progress.) Only then will they understand that it is just not a bunch of tubes that you shove stuff through.
Luckily, Mark Redgrave has written a great article ("Marketers Need To Understand Discussion Before Joining It") explaining how to get started. A couple of real kickers in the article include:
- ...engage the user with highly relevant, targeted advertising...
- Understanding [that] the conversation is not about identifying keywords...
Bonus: If you understand what this excerpt is really saying, then you know where advertising on the Internet will evolve:
"If someone is talking enthusiastically about going skiing in Utah in March, they will react positively to skiing advertising and specific ski travel offers that fit their timing. If, however, they are talking about how they hate the cold weather and just don't understand why their friends spend money on skiing and winter holidays, those same skiing ads will have the opposite effect. This creates an experience that is bad for the user and bad for the advertiser. That's why the technology used to understand the conversation and to serve the ad must be sophisticated enough to understand the nuance in language. Just latching onto the keyword "skiing" is not sufficient. This is why current efforts are falling short."