One day I realised I’d been drawn into a strange new digital world…
I wasn’t dreaming. I stirred from a deep sleep and even before I opened my eyes, I instinctively reached out to wake my laptop. Almost involuntarily, my first thoughts and actions opened a portal to the digital world.
From that moment, I understood the future might be a merging of digital and material realities.
I had planned semi-retirement and a move to Argentina. Would a new career in Digital Marketing compliment my aspirations to change my life? I longed to leave the boardroom and rat race behind. Was I too old? Just a few months later, digital and social media mania had firm grips on my life. You are never too old!
Social networking inevitable?
Humankind is an instinctively social animal. Aristotle described those averse to integrating as either beasts or gods. Modern civilisation can make us feel enslaved in open prisons. We are often just too busy trying to survive for extended family, friends, and community.
Hundreds of millions of people live crammed into mega-conurbations. Many of us never fully acclimatise to living in hellishly small units stacked high into the sky. We live in touching distance of our neighbours but many people suffer from an isolation unfathomable to our recent ancestors.
To some extent, digital communication and social networking appear to bring us closer. The digital world has revolutionised the how and when we communicate. The digital world enlightens us, sometimes misleads us, revitalises relationships and allows us to group to share our lives and beliefs with an audience.
Whether you think our digital world a protagonist or our doom, it´s here to stay.
The Internet became one of the few mediums where people could express their views and share ideas without fear of censorship. In recent years, we have witnessed the digital world shape human awakening, mobilise revolutions and more recently, we watch in horror as rich media beckons the misguided to group beneath a ‘Jolly Roger’.
Our leaders fear the immense power of our digital age. Even liberal democratic unions filter, illegally monitor and challenge the openness of the Internet. So-called bastions of freedom abuse and use ‘security policy’ to take control of humankind’s first real taste of freedom in centuries.
Fast-forward to January 2013. The future I’d imagined is now my reality. Did my material and digital worlds collide? Not yet, although digital communication helps cure my homesickness, fuels my social life and influences my purchasing decisions. I carry immediate access to my digital world in my top-left-hand-pocket. I laugh at my past antipathy towards the monster-transportable I carried in the ‘80s.
I love the idea of my thickening glass prescription spectacles getting trendy and connected. Conversely, the thought of an implanted chip that connects me to the digital fills me with horror. The digital world has immeasurably changed my life. I invest in a number of businesses that thrive on Digital Marketing and I’ve helped a number of developed-market companies look at new opportunities in the Americas.
More recently, I help local businesses (Argentina) raise money, fight against Argentina’s painful isolationism and legally circumvent restrictions that hamper trade.
My consultancy starts with detailed research and a complete review of my client’s online reputation. Too many established companies, founders and executives present ideas and craft business proposals without owning their ‘digital footprints’.
People often ask me what I have learnt about the Internet and digital communication. My answer is always the same: ‘Never enough’.
What I know about Digital Marketing is an easier question to answer
I am a firm believer that digital marketing can improve engagement, relationship building and retention in all areas of business. However, that only happens when we stop trying to fit square pegs into round holes. Too many businesses let their material propositions ‘wag the digital dog’.
In our global village, markets change rapidly. Research/market awareness and measurement should be the Internet Marketers most trusted tools.
Communicating to sell rather than solve problems is a sure way to fail.
Online activism poses a significant threat to some industries that fail to deliver their message with a ‘be seen to care philosophy’. Today, some industries are not only fighting for market share, they are fighting against a tide of resentment and online activism.
Don’t be afraid of your brand or proposition becoming more human. Brands should take on a more ‘human face’ – communicate with human values in mind.
Share human experience, attempt to relate and connect with your audience on an emotional level. Only when I left the rat race did I realise that working within institutions had me ‘tuned-out’. The Internet requires and inspires us to think-outside-the-box.
Brand and proposition must radiate through the digital world with planned regularity. Consistency and patience are two very important allies.
The core messages shared with an audience should always stand the test of time. Fashions change and brands evolve, but your message may leave a footprint that will one-day travel to the stars.
Brands truly benefit from creativity inspired by the richness of modern digital media. Web applications should dazzle and offer the best possible user experience.
Brands must deliver exactly what’s written on the tin. Bad news travels fast is merely a footnote in the digital world. Consumers can pin their grievances directly to your digital front door.
Businesses are not perfect – they make mistakes. Albeit, brands that proactively and openly strive for positive change, dealing with failure by showing improvement, can often turn negatives into positives.
My role at Search Engine Marketing People is a creative one. I help brands connect with human values, offer solutions and value propositions in the digital world.