Sometimes I'm afraid as coming off as someone who puts everything down, and I can see how that might be an unintentional result. However, I want to believe. I really do! I've met most of the players and I know they are smart, well qualified professionals, with mostly good intentions. It's just that I'm not sure where the line is drawn between what they want to do, who they claim to be, and what I can witness and objectively conclude.
I think this comes from having heard too many people, make too many promises that are never fulfilled, that I've adopted a proof is in the pudding (btw, a shortened version of an old Jewish proverb "the proof of the pudding is in the eating.") mentality. For me, actions speak much louder than words, and when you stack up the evidence against some things, I'm afraid that what is said, and what may be the intent do not match the evidence.
So in this post I just want you to see what I see. I see three organizations who claim to be the leaders of Internet technology, marketing, and advertising. However, what I see again and again, are high qualified professionals trying to do the right things, professing what are the right things to do, but who don't DO any of those things on their own or in their respective organizations.
A lesson that I try to teach the young'uns is that whatever you want to be, the only way to master that goal, is to do the things a professional in that career does. For instance, if you want to be a programmer, then you have to write a lot of programs. If you want to be a singer, you have to practice singing all the time. Or if you want to be the next Ivan Rodriguez or Roberto Clemente, you have to play a lot of baseball. Simple, right?
So here, without analysis (well not as much as my usual cynicism) are three case studies which, I believe, demonstrate why Internet marketing sucks in Puerto Rico. In these case studies, I'm going to sample the pudding. I'll try to gather as much information about these organizations, the individuals leading those organizations and the companies they work for. For all of this data collection, I will use simple search engine queries and follow clicks, till I reach a dead end.
Internet Society of Puerto Rico and Archer Lebron, President of the ISOC-PR Board of Directors; CEO and President of TranXcend, Inc.
ISOC-PR has been around since 2001. It's major achievements have probably been participating in various studies of the Internet in 2005 and 2006, establishing some Internet Clubs, and conducting fairly regular activities (usually seminars). One of the things I find aggravating about their Joomla based home page is the lack of sorting or ordering by date of items (messages, archived files, news). While getting bonus points for hosting their site on an open source CMS, the intent of the site seems to be the transfer of information TO visitors. Consider that for a moment as I'll revisit that point in my conclusion.
If you'd like to meet some of the folks at ISOC, here are their scheduled events for the rest of the year:
- 11/4/09 - Segundo Foro de Tecnología: Perspectivas de la Academia
ORADORES: Presidentes de Universidades
LUGAR Microsoft Caribbean, Inc.
Metro Office Park, Microsoft Building, Calle 1 Piso 5
- 12/2/09 - "Liderazgo, Visión y Tecnologia: La Historia de WAL-MART"
ORADOR: Renzo Castillo, CEO, Walmart Puerto Rico
LUGAR: Puerto Rico Telephone, Avenida Roosevelt, Edificio 1515
Sales and Marketing Executives Association and Olga Rivera, President of the Board of Directors; President ICPR Junior College
While the objectives of the SME of PR are not exactly aimed at interactive marketing, they do have a committee focused on the Internet. This committee is responsible for the annual SME event, the Puerto Rico Internet Forum. As mentioned before, they also sponsor the WebAd Awards.
Their web site seems to be primarily aimed at their members. While they do have a news section, everything else is a communication of information TO visitors. Are you starting to catch the trend here? The current focus of the SMEPR is their celebratory orgy of their Annual convention at the Rio Mar this weekend. The event starts today.
Here's a perfect example of what I introduced at the beginning of the post. The SME site has no links to any social media web sites, nor can can I seem to find any trace of them on Facebook or Twitter. But wouldn't you know it, it seems that their keynote speaker is UberCool founder Michael Tchong. His topic will be "I want to Tweet you up."
So while the organizers of their convention recognize that Twitter is UberHot and should be of interest to their members and participants of their convention, the SMEPR doesn't actually appear to participate on Twitter. I wonder how many of its members do?
Quick note: Non-members are allowed to attend the conferences but for a small fee. For example, if you'd like to see Michael, it'll set you back $160. However, if you'd just like to schmooze around and maybe get some free beers ;-p I think registration for the exhibit hall should be free.
The current president of the board of Directors is Olga Rivera, who is President of ICPR Junior College. Again, the ICPRJC web site has no links to any social media websites, but they do have a games section (WTF?). They also have an interesting page that cobbles together photographs, videos, and other news regarding events and other "cool" stuff, including a link to Youtube! In general, while the ICPRJC site successfully targets students, it is still basically focused on communicating information TO visitors.
IAB Puerto Rico and Ernesto Gonzalez, President of IAB Puerto Rico ; President of GTA Marketing Agency
While IAB Puerto Rico/Caribe are new to the Internet, Ernesto Gonzalez has been a long time participant and leader on the Internet. First, I pretty much covered IAB Caribe or IAB Puerto Rico, how ever you want to call them, in my last post. So let's take a look at GTA Marketing Agency.
GTA has been a huge proponent and developer of Flash-based sites, so most of their site is in Flash. Talk about your online brochures, GTA makes the best you'll ever see. However, what you won't see is any news, blogs, or any thing else besides information aimed AT visitors. I will give them credit for being the fist of the sites discussed today with links to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube. So there is so movement towards, or at least invitation to, a conversation.
Of course, these case studies offer only a very narrow perspective, but I think I've made the case. These are the three leading organizations and resident experts on all things Internet and Internet Marketing in Puerto Rico, and none of them are leaders on the Internet. However, within the news and all of the elite power circles, these people and organizations are the recognized experts when it comes to the Internet.
Kudos to Ernesto and his efforts to join the conversation, even if he is late. However, over all the primary message these web sites communicate is that the way to approach the Internet is nothing more than an electronic brochure. I always learned and professed that you lead by example. So you can see why I think Internet marketing sucks in Puerto Rico, when none of its supposed leaders are actually leading in anything Internet-related.
What these leaders have not begun to comprehend is that the Internet is a conversation. Therefore any marketing aimed at the Internet must be approached from a conversational perspective. I tweeted about this before, but it bears repeating. In a post from Karl Greenberg over at MediaPost, he shares some thoughts from Jeff Goodby, who spoke recently at the Association of National Advertisers' Agency/Client Forum in New York. This one is killer:
"Goodby argues that only a fraction of marketers are really willing to face the implications of digital media, and most do not fully comprehend that there's a need for a new kind of advertising -- "a new way of talking to people."Amen brother. The Internet is all about talking WITH people, not TO them. It's just as simple as that. To see what I'm talking about take another look at UberCool from Tchong. That's the standard that our Internet leaders should be reproducing. Yes Timmy, it's true, the emperors are really not wearing any clothing.
Bonus: Check out Robert Bowling, a 24-year-old who serves as the Modern Warfare 2’s community manager has to say:
“I like to think of it as having the fans as part of the team.”Do you think any of the organizations above can claim anything new that? Yep, that's what I thought, no clothes!
Flickr Creative Commons Contributor: Al_HikesAZ