Performing Live: Online Marketing

Oops! This is a live performance.

Marketing online is different from marketing offline.

Nationally recognized experts tell us this is true. It’s in print, so it must be true.

No really, Nick, it must be true.

Sure, whatever. I have my doubts. I think that online marketing has simply shown up the follies and stupidity of old-fashioned marketing styles and beliefs.

Marketing online has had to change and adapt quickly. And offline marketers should watch and listen carefully because they need to apply “online marketing thinking” to their brick-and-mortar businesses.

So it’s not so much that it’s different online. It’s that the online experience has become a catalyst for change. And those changes should be applied offline, too.

What is so different online that it has provoked such rapid change?

It’s a live performance. It’s happening in what those weird folks with PDAs call “real time” but what you and I call “now.”

And the thing about a live performance is that you can’t get away with bullshit. You can’t hide behind the curtains and pretend everyone loves you. You have to get out there on the boards, walk up to the edge, and put yourself at the mercy of the audience.

And any audience, whether it’s live in the theater or live on the Internet, can be brutal.

If you’re boring, they’ll boo. If you’re afraid, they’ll smell it. If you underdeliver, they’ll walk out. And if you’re dishonest in your performance or practice of what you do, they’ll crucify you.

This is why marketing has had to grow up so quickly in the online environment.

Offline, marketers can still get away with garbage because they are so separated from their audience. It’s a one-way communication. The audience has no voice. And the audience can’t look you in the eye and judge you there and then.

Online, you have no protection from your audience.

Moreover, when you’re live on stage the audience sees you for what you really are – a person or group of people.

The morality of marketing used to be able to hide under the corporate skirt, behind the drawn curtain. Hey, it may not be completely honest, but it’s business.

That’s a neat trick, separating your corporate morality from your personal morality. And offline companies still do that, as do some online companies.

The trouble is, those online companies have forgotten that they are performing live and in full view of their audience. Which is why, when online companies act dishonestly, millions of people get to hear about it real quickly.

This a good thing.

And this is why marketing with permission is a good thing.

Because if you market any other way, you’ll be booed off the stage – sooner or later.

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