What's next in digital marketing?
As many Smarter Marketing readers already know, the past couple months have been a traveling circus for yours truly, with the Online Marketing Summit visiting 18 cities to date (and with three left on the West Coast). It's made finding the hot, interesting topics easy for me each month. All I do is listen to the questions asked, like at our end-of-day "Big Brands, Big Plans" keynote panel, and translate the answers and lessons.
The question of "what's next?" seems to come up in every city. What's next in digital marketing? What should we be looking out for? What will be the next big thing? These aren't bad questions, as it shows marketers' never-ending curiosity with the new and cool.
What's next is "now." We're adopting technology and online media so fast that the only thing we can possibly do is get in the flow of what's happening here and now. What's next really is how to be nimble, flexible, and smart enough to get in the flow of now before great market share and brand leadership opportunities pass you by.
Now, Not How
Now is a perfect example of what's wrong with marketing and the old-guard advertising world. Those who have been in marketing and advertising for a long time have a tendency (rightfully so) to preach the gospel of what to do and why to do it rather seeking the answers like their newer, hungrier, and significantly younger staff.
If you talk all the time, you aren't listening. If you aren't listening, you aren't learning. And if you aren't learning, you're calcifying.
The only thing that stops that process is a major revelation -- or a broken bone. Where we're forced to learn, we stay flexible and, if possible, we reverse the calcification process.
Now, Not Before Then
So many of us are like my five-month-old son. He's so curious about everything around him, suddenly turning his head to whatever happens to catch his attention at the moment. Even when he's feeding and desperately hungry, he gets distracted by the sounds and sights of the now and forgets the important task at hand.
We marketers have the same natural curious tendencies, and we easily lose focus on the important and fundamental tasks at hand.
Perhaps 90 percent of us marketing professionals (myself included) haven't done the job when it comes to the three pillars of digital marketing: e-mail, analytics, and search. Because we've been trained to think about the next big campaign, we start building the next cool e-mail marketing campaign to wow our audiences with. Or we build a Facebook application, group, or page to get into the social networking game. And on it goes.
Answering questions like the following can help you stay in the now:
Now Is Forever
Looking at the big picture, at these fundamental elements and how the improvements to such things as our Web site can give returns for years to come (if not forever), should help justify the time and resources. We all need to get a lot better at the fundamentals before we spend so much time on the fun stuff.
I'm not saying you shouldn't build a Facebook groups page. But we must continually work on the fundamentals to make sure that all the cool new stuff we do works in tandem with the foundation.
Much like any particular sport, you must have a thorough grasp on the fundamentals, such as dribbling, free-throw shooting, passing, and shooting, before you do the really fun stuff, like the double-pump reverse dunk. If all you focused on was the dunk, how many basketball games would you win?
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After selling the Online Marking Summit (OMS) event company in 2011, Aaron is now leading the charge of the newest venture, the Online Marketing Institute - the leading eLearning platform and training destination for digital marketing education.
Kahlow is one of the most recognized thought-leaders in the digital marketing and social media space. Having founded, funded, and built three prolific and highly profitable digital marketing companies, Kahlow has also delivered hundreds of marquee keynote speeches around the globe. As a speaker, Kahlow is known for his inspirational style and plain-spoken nature where audiences always walk away feeling both motivated and educated. Aaron is a leading educator translating online marketing technology jargon into simple marketing and business terms. He is a recognized author, columnist (ClickZ, NYT) and authority on social media marketing, sales and marketing integration, demand generation, business-to-business marketing, search marketing, usability, analytics, and digital marketing strategy.
Named Metropolitan Magazine's "Top 40 Entrepreneurs under the Age of 40" Kahlow is also well known for his endless energy as an entrepreneur. Having built Business Online from three guys and a brother in a dentist office to BtoB Digital Agency of the Year; founding and selling the industry's premier digital marketing event, the Online Marketing Summit, and now on his third successful start-up, Online Marketing Institute, Kahlow is synonymous with building successful digital companies. Kahlow also has served on the Board of Directors and Advisory Board to many digital associations and media companies like the International Business Marketers Association, Search Engine Strategies/ClickZ, Microsoft/ BING Prof. Accreditation, Social Media Examiner, as well as many digital technology start-ups.
Today, Aaron can be found in his new home city of San Francisco, working on the global expansion of "Teaching the World Digital" in his eLearning technology venture, the Online Marketing Institute. Facebook and LinkedIn are his preferred places to connect.
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