“I don’t understand digital marketing. I hate it, I wish it would go away!” This has happened twice now in less that a week. And while to me, digital marketing is so obvious that I cannot believe that others can’t see it, to other people it is a form of eternal frustration that they don’t understand it.
So I had to ask myself the question to try and help. “Why is digital marketing so hard for some people to understand?”
If you’re looking for help with digital marketing and social media advice or coaching, it’s perfectly OK to say that you don’t ‘get it’. I work with several clients who were embarrassed initially to admin that they simply didn’t get it. For one, it was the intangible aspect of digital marketing. At least that’s how they saw it.
And no matter how I tried to describe it, the understanding wasn’t there.
I used to find this massively frustrating. I mean, come on, how hard can it be? It’s right there to see, it’s obvious! That was how I felt.
Until I began to realise that the main reason why we were having this conversation was because they needed my help to do something that they had accepted that simply could not do themselves.
Worse than that, they were really worried about the fact that they didn’t have the remotest idea of how it worked.
And then I began to understand their frustration. I like to have a working knowledge of things I am involved with. It gives me a perspective of what’s happening, even if I don’t have deep levels of expertise.
For example, I’m not a deep thinking car suspension expert, but I know the essentials of car suspension, how three way dampers work, spring rates etc. It gives me the tools that I need to give feedback and understand what is going on. I am not and never will be a race car technician.
But I understand enough.
In a helicopter, I have an understanding of what the control inputs are doing, how everything is working. I do NOT fully understand the deep levels of engineering, metallurgy and technology that goes into the construction of a helicopter blade. But I know enough to understand what’s happening in the control inputs.
In photography, I have a deep level of understanding of what’s happening inside a camera, inside the lens, how the depth of field is being controlled, how the shutter is working, even how the chip is scanning.
Just don’t ask me to repair it if it fails.
So when I stopped to think about it, I began to understand how it must be incredibly frustrating to know that digital marketing is something your business must have and needs help on. But not having a clue where to begin at all.
That must be hard.
So here’s my incredibly basic, super simple, elementary overview of how digital marketing works for the people I work with and others who may be experiencing the frustration and helplessness of simply not understanding at all how it works.
This is the clearest way I can think of to explain this.
Here We Go.
Just because we are always online and our customers aren’t sitting right there before us, it doesn’t really mean that anything has changed.
Just because nobody is reading those expensive print adverts you pay for, or watching those TV ads you got an amazing deal on (because everyone is watching Netflix), it doesn’t mean that your customers are no longer there. It’s simply that their attention has shifted. So you need to go where the attention has moved to.
If that attention is an iPhone screen in the queue at the supermarket, well you may not like it, but that’s how it is.
Nothing has really changed in the super-basic principles of selling things or marketing things.
Selling is still selling and marketing is still marketing. The only thing that has really changed is the platform of communication.
If you understand the basic elements of selling things, then you can gain a working knowledge of digital marketing, even if you have no desire to dig deep into it.
Not from a sales background? OK, this may get a little harder, however I am up for it if you are. Keep reading.
The SINGLE BIGGEST mistake that anyone new to digital marketing makes is to go straight to selling. ‘Buy this, book here, special offer….’ However, that’s the same mistake people always used to make anyway, before digital.
Let me try and get you an analogy. I like analogies, people seem to get them most times I use them. See the three above about the car, the camera and the helicopter? They were analogies. OK, you knew that.
So here’s another.
Imagine standing in a bar, or at a party with friends. It’s a crowded room.
Someone none of you know suddenly buts into your conversation and says, “Hey, sorry to interrupt, but I thought you might like to buy some of my stuff, here’s a leaflet.”
You’d consider it rude and tell them where to go.
Now consider the same scenario, you’re chatting with friends, the same bar or party. Someone leans over and says, “Hey, I happened to hear what you said there, did you hear about……” This voice adds to the conversation, there’s no selling. Then over the course of the evening, they join in with other chats and become accepted as part of the room.
You can’t help but ask at some point, “So what did you say you did, I didn’t catch it earlier?”
People still buy things from people. It’s simply the platform of communication that has changed. And your customers are, potentially, anywhere in the world. Isn’t that a great opportunity?
I said that to someone recently and it really freaked them out. While it was an opportunity that could understand, the whole thing was simply so intimidating that at a basic level, they didn’t even want to think about it.
When I asked why, the answer was almost child like in it’s simplicity. “I cannot grasp the enormity of the task we have to undertake. It’s just too huge, it’s intimidating, it’s frankly, a bit scary.” Until then, I hadn’t thought of it like that.
“However, I know that we need to do it. Where do we start? How do we do it?”
Just like eating an elephant. One bite at a time.
Try to think of digital marketing in similar ways to how you’ve done some of your more ‘traditional’ marketing in the past, mixed together with a little bit of social interaction and some fun visual selling ideas.
Then introduce one really, really important element that makes the difference between winning and losing in digital marketing.
Try to imagine the end result you’re trying to achieve. Whether that is more visitors, more bookings, more downloads, more followers. Whatever it is you’re trying to achieve, place yourself into the mindset of your potential customer and try and imagine what questions they may have, what information they may need to make a decision, what degree of trust they may need to achieve with you before buying.
Put yourself into the shoes of someone who might potentially be a buyer of what you sell, or visitors to your business or attraction.
What might they be thinking?
Capture that thought and then start to reverse engineer where you are right now and what you say online, through a pathway to arrive at a point inside the head of that person with a blog article, a Facebook post or an Instagram story that answers that very question that you think will be foremost in their minds.
A slight technical hitch of course, is that due to the fleeting nature of digital attention and the ever present iPhone screen scroll, you may only have seconds to stop them in their tracks. Interesting, right?
So if you’re starting out trying to understand the elements of digital marketing and you’re struggling, then remember these three things above all else:
- People still buy things from people. It’s only the platform of communication that has changed.
- Empathy. If you have it already, deploy it massively. If you feel you don’t have it then start developing it or ask those around you for help. It’s vital.
- Reverse engineer. Work out where you wish to be with your audience and reverse engineer a pathway back to where you are now. That will give you the beginnings of a digital marketing strategy that you can begin to perfect over time.
A final thought. There’s one word that you simply cannot afford to use if you’re trying to get going with digital marketing.
It’s the enemy and boy, am I guilty of it.. We’re all guilty of it and it’s the subject of my next blog on this very subject. Procrastination is the enemy.