Digital Marketing for a Digital Age
Consider for a moment the type of marketing that has impacted you in your personal life. Was it an effective piece of print media, like VW’s famous “Lemon” ad in the 1960s, or the unforgettable safe love ads during the AIDS epidemic? Perhaps it was a TV ad like Apple’s “1984” commercial or the anti-drug ads of the late 80s (“this is your brain on drugs”). Perhaps it was the billboard and internet campaigns for a fake District Attorney that preceded the release of The Dark Knight in 2008 (“I believe in Harvey Dent”), or the very real candidate ads for presidential hopeful Dwight D. Eisenhauer, (“I Like Ike”). Whatever the case may be, these ads all utilized the media vehicles of their day to create an idea that was powerful enough to be remembered. Somehow, through the use of brilliant writing and a firm grasp on the tools available to them, marketing firms made ads that were very much “of their time,” but that went on to become timeless.
Now, can you name a similar example, but that was run entirely online?
Of course, there are examples, but they’re rare. Films like The Blair Witch Project and The Matrix received a lot of underground buzz thanks to clever web design, creative SEO, and a sense of mystery that left people itching to go to the theater to see what exactly the movie was about.
Today, the most effective online marketing is crowd-sourced. Not long after the start of the 2010s, three women outraged by the acquittal of the killer of Trayvon Martin started using the hashtag #blacklivesmatter on social media. Now there is virtually no one who uses the internet, be they American or otherwise, who isn’t aware of the BLM movement. To get that kind of market saturation is not easy, and requires knowledge of the platform and the audience like never before. We live in an age with the biggest platform in history, capable of reaching people all over the world. To the victor of the zeitgeist go the spoils.
Mastering Search Engine Optimization
Thanks to shows like Mad Men, the world has started to think more in terms of advertising and marketing and the effect that it has on the way we perceive a product. Like all great marketing over the decades, we want to sell an idea, and whether we are using irony (“Lemon”), allusion (“1984”), metaphor (“this is your brain on drugs”), or tradition (“Sean Connery IS James Bond!”) doesn’t matter as long as that idea rises to the top.
Enter the most powerful tool on the internet: the search engine.
Over the years, local SEO has become increasingly more important to the longevity of a company and a product than anything else. Search queries like “best gym in my area,” or “most comfortable blanket” can lead anyone to make a purchase, if the resultant product is close enough to the top of the page. This is where marketing firms come in. Utilizing keywords, proper readability practices, exceptional web design, and interactivity with an audience (online reviews), will literally and figuratively put your company ahead of your competitors. A good marketing firm works to distill your message into an easily searchable idea and fosters good relationships with search engine proprietors like Google.
Today most “rags to riches” stories about products and companies are due in large part to community outreach and social media management. Like the swap meets and bazaars of old, today’s active marketplace is found on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, where businesses can display their goods and make their case before an audience of millions. An adept social media manager will be able to engage people and drive up excitement so that they become willing participants in the marketing by publicly showing interest.
It is here on social media that the idea which rises to the top–that is, the accessibility of a product to the most common person–is most effective. Good writing, a catchy slogan, and the right balance between humor and gravity can be what separates a good marketing campaign from the truly exceptional one.
A Case for the Marketing Firm
Never has there been more tools to define, and then reach out to, a target demographic before. But utilizing all of these tools at once, and in a competent way, can feel like drinking from a firehouse at times. Rare is the person who is an incredible writer, developer, graphic designer, and showperson, that also has the time and connections to properly market their brand.
A competent marketing firm can do all of those things and leverages its network on behalf of the client. Of course, there are many firms to choose from, and how can one know they have the best one suited to their needs? Perhaps the first test lies in search engine optimization. After finding one to meet with for a consultation, seeing how they talk about utilizing digital tools will be another tell.
When choosing a digital marketing agency, ask yourself “do they understand the central idea of my mission?” If they do, the biggest step will have been taken.