Digital MarketingStrategiesThe Law Of The Pickle Portal

The Law Of The Pickle Portal

As more companies decide to market online, they are approaching agencies in greater numbers and with deeper pockets, wanting to build a web site. That's a big mistake. Going to an agency is a good idea, of course. But the decision to build a product web site is usually premature and often misguided. Marketing online doesn't always mean building a web site. Sometimes it's a bone-headed approach.

As more companies decide to market online, they are approaching companies like ours in greater numbers, and with deeper pockets, and asking us to build them a web site.

That’s a big mistake. Coming to us is a good idea, of course. But the decision to build a product web site is usually premature, and often misguided.

If I could get one idea across to all future clients it is this: Marketing online does not always mean building a web site. In fact, in many instances, investing heavily in a product site is a bone-headed approach.

Call it the law of the pickle portal: If you want to market your (hypothetical) pickle brand online, it doesn’t mean you need a pickle site. Most people aren’t interested in pickle sites, and trying to drive traffic could be expensive and frustrating.

As a sole online marketing strategy, building a site, and then driving traffic to it, is an out-dated approach. The fact is, however, that many traditional (and even online) marketers are unable to conceive of anything else.

One big reason is that they think of the Internet as a suburban community, and web sites like little one-family homes neatly lining cookie-cutter streets.

But the fact of the matter is, the Internet is a giant, chaotic, cacophonous conversation (kind of like New York City). A bunch of road signs saying “Bob’s pickles, click here” doesn’t quite do the trick. And with so many attractions around, the house of pickles just doesn’t seem worth the trip.

The amazing thing about the Internet from the marketing point of view is the ability to get involved in the conversation, to be relevant to the consumer. The problem is, most marketers don’t have much to say. They are used to talking about things like pickles, and not offering a dialogue of value to their consumers.

That may sound like a bunch of buzz words, but it’s true. In the great marketplace of products and ideas that is the Internet, if you can’t give value, you are instantly irrelevant. That goes as much for companies selling books as for those who want to brand their pickles.

So, if we were hired by this hypothetical pickle company, what would be our approach? First, we’d work with the client to discover its business and financial objectives, and translate these into online goals.

We would then learn about its competitors and category, so that we could develop a unique online selling proposition and positioning.

Using traditional and online tools, we would learn about its customers. We would make sure we had a sophisticated understanding of every target segment, and what its corresponding value was to the company.

Then we would answer questions like: Are there sponsorships and partnerships we should consider? How does direct communication fit in? Should we be building custom applications? How can we integrate with offline promotions?

It wouldn’t be until then that we would decide what tactics make sense. Maybe we sponsor a section on a sports site. Perhaps we build a downloadable pickle that makes jokes from the customer’s desktop. Maybe we should develop a viral marketing campaign.

The key is to offer value to consumers and serve the interests of the brand. Maybe it would make sense to build the pickle portal, after all. But I doubt it.

Related Articles

How financial services CMOs should approach regulation

Digital Transformation How financial services CMOs should approach regulation

2w Al Roberts
How are traditional banks competing for customers in a digitally disrupted industry?

Finance How are traditional banks competing for customers in a digitally disrupted industry?

1m Al Roberts
5 cross-platform automation tools to improve your team's efficiency

Collaboration 5 cross-platform automation tools to improve your team's efficiency

1m Tereza Litsa
How challenger banks are revolutionizing the banking customer experience

Finance How challenger banks are revolutionizing the banking customer experience

3m Al Roberts
8 ways AI can enhance your marketing strategy today

AI 8 ways AI can enhance your marketing strategy today

3m Marcela De Vivo
Why banks are becoming customer-centric organizations

Analyzing Customer Data Why banks are becoming customer-centric organizations

1m Al Roberts
Five tools to automate lead nurturing in sales

Ecommerce & Sales Five tools to automate lead nurturing in sales

1m Tereza Litsa
How CMOs are using apprenticeships to bridge the digital skills gap

Marketing How CMOs are using apprenticeships to bridge the digital skills gap

2m Christian Doherty