For us baby boomers that still have a few years of work ahead of us, it has become increasingly apparent that today we all live and operate in a digitally directed world.
While this evolution and transition to understanding a new set of behaviors, communications, marketing and direct ‘one to one’ customer engagement is intimidating (perhaps even a bit frightening) to some people, it simply cannot be ignored or delegated to younger and more tech savvy colleagues. If one wants to remain relevant, useful, and ultimately commercially successful - they must adapt.
With all of these thoughts in mind, I recently took a week-long digital marketing program put on by co-sponsoring universities, Notre Dame and Rutgers.
There were seventeen students in the class and I was definitely one of the two most ‘seasoned’ individuals in our group. This, of course, means that the two of us had seen seen the most seasons over the years...
From digital strategy across channels - search, social media, content and mobile - to web analytics we became immersed in the new reality: communicating with our customers and business prospects is going to involve a new operating landscape. No longer will, or should, we be satisfied with the old trusty tools. Simply putting out a press release, posting sporadically or without a customer relationship engagement plan on social media, buying traditional advertising, or hoping the ‘right’ audience happens to notice you or what you’re selling or promoting is not cutting it.
We must be smart, have a digital plan of attack with measurable objectives and goals, and most of all: be patient. Digital marketing leading to measurable results usually will not happen immediately or even in the very short term. What it will do is allow you to identify and talk to people (customers) who were looking for you and the services and products you offer and create the opportunity to begin building relationships.
So you may be asking yourself by now: when’s he going to start telling me what indeed was so darn valuable that it will compel me to act and behave differently in my daily business operations?
Well for a start, here's a dozen tidbits that I learned:
- While it took 467 years for printed word to be read by a billion people, it took only 4 years for Web 2.0 to be used by a billion people
- Attention spans continue to decrease, in order to keep people's focus you need to act faster
- Digital technology can add more value to products, increase brand loyalty and increase sales while making production of goods and services more efficient in terms of inventory and costs
- Longer blog posts (even 3,000 words or longer) tend to be read more widely than significantly short posts (say 500 to 1000 words - like this post for example, so congratulations if I still have your attention)
- It’s better to create demand first for a product or service before building / producing it if you do business online
- The consumer engagement model has changed and we all need to embrace new ways of running our respective businesses
- ‘Searching’ touches everyone’s online behavior and it has changed purchasing behavior
- Two out of three B2B customers have already done research before they actually engage with you
- People use ‘search’ engine exploration with specific intent in mind
- A strategic business plan that is smart, actionable, and measureable before you haphazardly try to engage customers online is absolutely necessary
- If you want journalists’ attention, start tweeting because trending discussions will get identified by a data mining tool which in turn is very often followed and read by reporters who use this source of information to develop story ideas
- Search and social are how the so-called ‘non elites’ get their information, unlike the ‘elites’ who still rely significantly on traditional media (‘elite’ is defined as someone who looks at four or more publications on a daily basis)
I could continue further with my learnings and factoids, but that wouldn't necessarily help you arrive at the same ‘eureka’ moment that I experienced during my intensive week in the classroom at Notre Dame’s downtown Chicago location.
Instead, I want to encourage all of you fellow ‘boomers’ out there to take the plunge into the digital pool and enjoy the exploration, learnings, and discoveries of the current and future operating system of both our personal and professional lives.
Remember, engaging in new digitally based activities helps exercise our minds and, in turn, helps us to continue to grow as individuals and help keep us healthy and informed as we begin to enter the twilight years of our time here on the planet.
Go ahead because there is no looking back.