Digital-holics unite to admit their problem

It’s a dark and stormy night on the 13th of the month.  

The newly notified small bar location is now filled with pixel princesses, peer to peer princes, hashtags, check-ins and even a worn out Pokemon character sick of being on the GO!

Digital natives have descended in droves.

And those that couldn’t make it physically are now packed in via Periscope.

It’s the inaugural DA meeting for #digital-holics

In the same vein as Alcoholics Anonymous, this is Digitals Anonymous – the first meeting for digital marketers that have a problem.  

The first rule – admit the problem

But it’s not advertising these days. It’s digital…” says the kale mocktail-swilling man in the black vest.

Well digital is just the platform, the technology, the pixels and the resulting data footprint.

It is advertising.

It’s all advertising aimed at selling in some form or another.

But advertising is intrusive” says the manager of a new pop-up concept. “Digital is different.”

How different is it to your online pop-up store, pages and forms; branded content; and a myriad of other digital formats that aim to inform people of a cause, product or service?

With a thump of his hand on the central table creating a stunning silence, “No buts” bellowed the convener.

“The problem is clear.

You are focused on the words digital marketing.

It’s time to drop the word digital.  

There’s no such thing as digital marketing.

There is only marketing, which can play out through a myriad of digital (and non-digital) channels, platforms and formats now.”

So the scene was set. Everyone was paying attention.

And then the second rule was read out.

The second rule – refocus on the customer, consumer or shopper

It’s not about digital. Marketing should be about customers, consumers and shoppers. Real people.

The convener asked for a show of hands. “How many times have you been re-targeted when online? 100% of you. Wow. And do you think it’s good or bad?”

Everybody slowly began chanting “good, good, good” in unison.

Well it can be good if you are at the right stage in the decision-making cycle and it serves as a prompt for you. Or it could be trucken annoying for most people who aren’t.

So the convener continued by imparting knowledge about getting away from bells and whistles and focusing discussion on people and how they behave in their real lives and not just in digital channels.

And then a lonely character in the corner piped up and shared an anecdote with the group.

“I have been blinded by reality. My whole focus in my career of 2 years has been on user experience. But I was only thinking of the website and App. I had forgotten about the data capture required to identify users, the analysis and segmentation required to make sense of all the data, and the role of the channel in people’s life. Their real life. I have been drinking the digital KoolAid for too long.”

And with that he broke down and wept.

Three others quickly came to his side and gave him a free hug.

The third rule – beware the guru

After the man had settled back into his corner, the convener kept going.

Conversation focused on the rise of the digital guru: social media, content marketing, UX/UI/UE, search, mobile, AR/VR, drone, P2P, programmatic, big data… the list rattled on.

Everybody has a trick to peddle, however the trick is in knowing which trick you can ride.

Digital opportunities have been exponential. Beware of gurus. Do your research. Be clear on what they are actually offering.

Ask about hidden charges, kickbacks or mark-ups that may be being applied.

Importantly, understand what level of IP you are outsourcing versus needing to insource.

And most importantly, identify whether you have the management processes to effectively integrate the ‘trick’ into your business operation.  

And with this there was stunned silence.

Then this question from the back, “What is IP? Is that a new App?”

“Hmmmmm,” growled the convener.

The fourth and final rule – there is no “I” in TEAM.

After the IP comment, the convener was getting a little agitated.

“I hate to break it to you all,” he said.  

“It’s not about you as individuals, it’s about you as a collective within your business.

Has anyone here actually spoken with their sales or business development teams lately?

Has anyone set foot into their contact centre and listened to front line calls?

Has anyone been into a retail precinct and observed shopper behavior?

Have you ever conducted research as to why people exhibit certain behavior and how to create habitual change?

Have you sat with HR to understand the psychology profiling and hiring policy?

If not, then here’s your homework.

Grab a pen and some paper (you can Google where to find some just this once), go back to your business tomorrow and do one of the above.

Take notes.

And then we’ll discuss them next month at DA2”

Good night everybody.

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