Bits, Bytes and Ballyhoo

To state the bleedin’ obvious, our world is digital now. People live online these days. That’s where conversations take place. It’s where we share videos of cute kittens and space commanders singing David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ from the International Space Station 370km above the earth. It is the marketplace.

So technology is another one of our essential platforms that help us put our big idea into practice and measure its success. And the best thing to be online is a facilitator of conversations within your own domain. To go back to our cocktail party analogy, you want to be the charming host and you want your guests to have a cracking time.

But of course, lots of other people are trying to do the same thing as you, so your technology platform has to be better – better at attracting people, better at informing them, better at keeping them, better at engaging with them.

The internet has increased opportunity in so many ways, but it has also transformed local parochial markets into huge, borderless global ones. The noise of all these extra businesses clamouring for attention has become deafening.

This doesn’t mean you have to be updating your marketing all the time in a desperate attempt to grab people’s attention in this hyper-competitive digital marketplace. Novelty value can be over-rated, often, funnily enough, by agencies looking to drum up gainful employment. I wonder why?

But one business looking to buy a CRM service in February will probably be doing so for the same reasons as another business in December. The fundamental appeal of your brand – and the content used to describe it – shouldn’t need to change that drastically….unless you’re Willy Wonka perhaps, or the BBC.

The online user experience – the buying journey – should be well mapped out and easy to understand. Beyond that there’s little point wasting time and resources refreshing your website content all the time if it isn’t necessary. This realisation then frees up money to spend on other broad reach marketing, such as PR or advertising.

But you do need to create a digital environment that is flexible enough to incorporate new technological developments or product propositions as they come along. What tends to happen is that companies think they have to create a microsite for every new product or campaign. They then neglect the corporate mother ship so that it becomes static and boring.

What’s this fragmentation doing to the perception of your brand? And what’s it doing to your search engine optimisation? Nothing good, believe me.

I’m a massive fan of centralised marketing. Yes, you can have geographical website variations if the reasons why someone in India buys your product are different to the reasons why someone in Iceland buys your product. But those situations are rare. Cultural differences don’t normally affect business purchasing decisions.

I don’t want to go into technical detail here about the relative merits of Droople or WordPress content management systems, or to be sidetracked into a debate about automated marketing services from the likes of Eloqua or Marketo. Technology moves on at a terrifying pace and trying to second-guess the future is a mug’s game.

But I do want to emphasise that while the technology platform is important, the creative platform as primacy and should flow through the other platforms.

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