Old Dog Same Tricks
by Ronald Burgess
This is part of the “Marketing Authority” series from American Marketing Association-Inland Empire. Vist the website at www.AMA-IE.com.
I’m an old dog when it comes to marketing. I remember the first personal computer. It had absolutely no impact on marketing. But a few years later, the first Macintosh illustrated to me how the print medium would change when I took my Aldus (later Adobe) PageMaker class in ’86. The days of typesetting and paste-up were over for many types of publications. Later, my company was hired to break (build a file too complex for) Xerox color printers. We succeeded in breaking it for a while, but they eventually got it right.
The point is, I thought design houses and ad agencies were doomed because businesses would do all their own publications. I was enamored with the technology and what I could do with it; but I was wrong about replacing professional work.
Yes, the general quality of print has increased dramatically since then, but the average business owner still does not know how to write compelling copy, do stunning design, or many times tell a clear story about why they are different. Sure a flyer looks better; but it typically does not get the entire job done that marketing materials are supposed to do. Further, companies that appreciate that fact still hire agencies, writers and designers to do their important print pieces. Designers make much more money than they did before the publishing revolution and so do real marketing professionals.
Recently the same phenomena have begun to penetrate the website business. Low cost
pre-designed website templates and self online publishing tools are available to businesses that “anyone” can do. Partially true.
But interestingly nothing has really changed. The old tricks (skills) are still more important than the technology used to create the communications. Online communications still must start the visual dialog with appropriate images (the brain decides instantly and sometimes without you knowing), that compel emotion, trust, tone and engagement. Professionals can get this wrong; non-professionals get it wrong most of the time.
Then the copy must be right for the exact audience, in the right voice, tenor, and tone. Together the copy and graphics must demonstrate, inform, educate and sell the product. The offer must be right, and the sales cycle completed to get action. Again, only the best pros do this right, and not all the time.
So this old dog predicts that after a try or two, and little growth occurs, the smart money will again realize that technology has not changed the marketing and selling basics, it has only enabled more to see the amateur work of a company. Technology does not create writers, designers, marketers, or salespeople out of anyone. And almost no one has all those skills in one brain.
Marketing requires an intelligent and experienced person to make sure the basics are completed before worrying about executing the technology. Access to the technology easily fools us into believing we can do it. I have never been a great speller. The first time I published a professional looking newsletter for the company in PageMaker, I was enthralled with the layout and simple graphics that were available in that era. But all I succeeded in doing was to show how poor my spelling was. It’s funny how a few small details destroyed the huge advances I had made. While spell-check has helped, you can still spell the wrong word right.
Small companies should take extreme care not to follow my naive assumptions of so many years ago. It only takes two or three mistakes to kill your company image and reputation. So if you are a great writer, fine, don’t take a chance on design. If you are a gifted designer, be sure you understand who you are targeting. If you have any budget at all, hire tested professionals to execute your new technology.
One last note on the latest online technology – Marketing online. Your website, social networking, blogging, RSS feeds and Search Engine Optimization need to work together. Understanding how to execute these highly effective plans is still very complex, even if you have expert writers. Because of the rapid nature of the technical changes and complex nature of multi-media campaigns, no simple break-through exists yet. We are not yet that sophisticated. This is still not magic. It’s just plain work. This part still needs outside help for all except the ones who you would hire to do it. This is true for all sized companies.
The old dog, can learn new tricks, but we still need the old tricks to succeed at marketing.
Ron Burgess is a marketing consultant specializing in business growth strategies. He has been involved in blending marketing execution with technology since the 1980’s. He can be reached via his website at BurgessManagement.com, or at http://www.linkedin.com/in/ronburgess