It's a Web, not a Trap

July 30, 2009

It's not often that I have to justify or explain what I do for a living, thank goodness. The advancing prominence of digital marketing has meant this industry is no longer relegated to the ropes, taking rib shots for multiple rounds just to wear down opponents. The downside is that I'm particularly baffled when I come across a business that still views the web in parochial, even dangerous, terms.

This happened last week during a discussion about a company that relies on the decidedly aged technique of in-home sales. They pointedly refuse to allow any type of online marketing, thinking it cold and impersonal—not to mention a threat to their business model.

In my view, the right online tools and techniques would complement this business, not destroy it, and I saw in their protestations some old-school paranoia. But at the end of the conversation, I couldn't help but wonder: Is our industry not properly explaining itself, or are some people just not listening?

Our goal is to create conversations, not end them

Mark, our fearless leader, recently gave a presentation through the Boerne Chamber of Commerce called "Winning Webshare: How Successful Companies Win the Hearts and Minds of their Customers Online." Notice that it doesn't say "Winning Webshare: How Successful Companies Sell Mercilessly Online and Obliterate Personal Relationships."

One of the presentation's key points was that online success is closely related to authentic conversation. Indeed, we see the true power of the web as its ability to establish and strengthen personal relationships, and we make a concerted effort to inform prospects and clients of this. Moreover, I don't think we're alone, crying out in the wilderness.

The web is more sociable than ever

Facebook has become a verb, Twitter is the web darling of all social strata, and some are even (incorrectly, in my view) asserting that web technologies have rendered traditional journalism dead. People are connecting online in ways never seen before, erasing borders and hierarchies. It's not enough to have a website and an email address these days; an online presence must be an online identity.

Even if our industry doesn't adequately explain the power of the web, the web tends to serve as its own cheerleader. It's difficult for me to imagine how some might still be under the impression that online tools are cold and impersonal—unless they've just completely closed off their minds to the alternative, that is.