Old school skills

Working in Digital Marketing means a lot of my working week is taken up with selling the benefits of digital to colleagues. in fact in the past two weeks I've traveled to Plymouth, Warwick, Loughton, London and Liverpool in order to do just that! Many of these benefits I've covered on this blog before such as tracking, testing, learning and engaging with the user in the place online that they occupy.

Keeping up with the latest tools and techniques is extremely challenging and maximising and evaluating campaigns is a lot of hard work. I also think that for many things digital will actually always be second best. For example, I have always found e-cards to be pretty much a waste of time. Whilst efficient for the business the impersonal and forgettable nature of them will never challenge receiving a real card which someone has bothered to hand write, buy a stamp for and walk to the postbox.

There are lots of digital things that are much easier and more efficient than their analogue counterparts – mail, music, networking, and socialising – but we still hold them in some disdain because they just don’t feel as good. One thing I find is that whilst people are documenting their day on social media through photos/status updates surely this shows that in fact they are not enjoying the moment - otherwise why break away from it to show the world what a 'good time' is being had? Digital formats deliver breadth, depth, interactivity, connectivity, and accessibility in spades – but at what cost?

There is a danger we become journalists reviewing our own lives rather than living them. I can be guilty of this myself as the creation of a digital layer of content for every real event enables greater access, more souvenirs, more connectivity (and a way to show the grandparents what the children have been doing!)

There is just something about the physical; the engagement of the senses, the presence, the effort, the humanity that impacts harder. It’s more authentic, and as the world grows increasingly virtual the actual becomes more and more potent. Ironically, it’s via the digital that we’re accessing more and more of those authentic experiences. Personally, I much prefer sitting down with a good book rather than a kindle.

There is now so much focus on the digital revolution, both in skills and budget, that there is a danger of more traditional skills being lost. If there's one thing I've learned from being married to a history teacher (and from publishing a book with her) it's that knowledge of the past is essential in order to focus on what is important for the future.

Over many years marketing is still essentially what it always was. People may be consuming media in many different ways and via many new channels but they are still the same people and human nature does not change. There may also be some new rules and tools are the marketers disposal but the importance of media planning, storytelling and emotional impact are no different.

I have noticed over recent months that digital marketing is maturing to a point where it is now much simpler and clearer. we know the big channels on which we need to concentrate and the differences between mediums is getting ironed out by the likes of video content. Of course it's essential I keep up with the changes and tools but essentially the online and the offline are now working increasingly seamlessly together.

Concentrating too much on the shiny and fast paced world of digital could mean that the next generation of marketers have not taken the time to learn the basics. What must be learned is how digital interacts with other media, how it supports and extends them, how the rules it plays by have been proven by science decades ago, and what makes it truly different and unique. This is why I see passing on knowledge as one of the most important parts of my job and do my best to always be helpful and approachable.
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