Online marketing is growing while traditional advertising continues to shrink. But are marketing divisions creating meaningful material or are they still resorting to time tested messages built on scale?
The beauty of the Internet is how it’s given everyone a voice. Like most parties I’ve been to, some are worth hearing and others not. It’s easy to envision speaking about smurfs with someone at a party who says, “You like smurfs? You’ve got to meet Gary.”
While the Internet was built to support research agendas, the World Wide Web thrived because it was a party. Hundreds of people talking to hundreds more. Then thousands. The Cluetrain Manifesto can fill in the details, but the key was the strands that tied this giant web together.
Then, it should be no surprise to find one of the most used html elements (outside structural elements) to be the anchor tag. This element turned a series of otherwise isolated thoughts, pages, images and videos into a giant conversation that both supported and detracted the original premise – if the idea of an original premise still exists.
Furthermore, this element was the centerpiece of new marketing that would be served by and controlled by consumers. So why do links and connections succeed for social connections while it fails for products and services.
Start with the structure of the link itself. Only two main elements are required to create a meaningful link:
<a href=”WHAT“> WHY </a>
The WHAT is easy. These are the pages, images, videos, offers, stores and landing pages created every day. This is a destination. Marketers spend hours stressing over the detail of these items ensuring the right colors, logos, layout, fonts, messages and images are used to maintain consistency and a proper image.
This is the old mindset. This assumes that once you arrive at the party, you will retell the same story the same way to everyone you can meet. In the end, you may have pissed off a share, but some will leave with a favorable impression of you.
The key to today’s marketing, especially in digital channels is addressing the WHY. This is where business fails and individuals succeed. Individuals create links because it has relevance and context. Social spaces have boomed because people have the desire to communicate and express themselves with context. A video is YouTube is only more content until someone takes action. With a favorite, embed or link, it becomes something greater. It expresses an idea, defines a moment, fills out a story or entertains alongside like content.
Businesses fail to grasp both the financial and social benefits of digital marketing because they fail to grasp the concept of relevance. Most corporate sites are based on convenience. Making it easier to do business when the question of why do business has yet to be answered.
Take a look around and see what businesses are answering the WHY questions. Who is providing relevance to their customers rather than convenience. Nike, Starbucks and Zappos *sigh* are showing greater interest in the need and use rather than the product itself.
Remember, the start of the Internet was about ideas. Sharing ideas is marketing. Just because marketing divisions have joined the online communities and brought their best practices along for the ride doesn’t make them right.