How Things Change (Not Really)
I’ve been doing a fair bit of networking recently and have noticed a rake of new Internet Marketing companies about. Some position themselves as social media marketing specialists. Others focus on just search. There even seems to be a mini-industry around events aimed at PR and advertising people teaching them how to Tweet, Blog and take part in social media! I believe there’s plenty of room for everyone because budgets are moving over to digital and with the exciting opportunities that emerge day by day, there’s sure to be plenty of work to keep everyone busy.
What I’ve been reflecting on is how I market my business now as opposed to 2003.
- In 2003 I set up Brightspark as a pure Internet Marketing Ireland provider. Services offered were search, pay per click and email. Much of my time was spent making the case as to why budgets needed to be allocated to internet marketing. This was not long after the dot com bomb which was built on the mantra of ‘build it and they will come’.
- By 2005, Google had IPO’ed and everyone who came to Brightspark wanted a ‘website and a number 1 on Google’. I had added in website design to the Brightspark mix because I had found in many cases I was working on driving traffic to sites that failed due to poor design. I had a lot of conversations at this time about why a number 1 on Google was not necessarily the best bang for a (limited budget) buck. Business blogging and repackaging blog content in the form of emails for marketing were often a strong alternative.
- Web 2.0 dawned in 2006 and we were on the case. For corporate Ireland, this didn’t mean an immediate switch into App-land. But Brightspark made a point of incorporating blogs, links to Flickr, and other social apps into as many sites as possible. We were responsible for the creation of Ireland’s first social networking site aimed at Spanish speakers – created on the Ruby on Rails platform. You could say this was the start of social media marketing. At this time there was a huge appetite for blogging training and writing for the web training. Corporate Ireland had switched on to the importance of content. By now, design focused on the user experience was included in all of our websites.
- Today we are blessed with such a wide variety of tools. The industry has matured and specialisms have emerged. Web design has come down significantly in price thanks to WordPress. And it’s increasingly difficult to find examples of really bad sites when preparing for the various training courses I offer. Before I presented people with a list of services on offer. Nowadays it’s much more tailored to the individual company’s needs. No, that’s not marketing speak, it’s true! Most internet marketing strategies begin with listening. A quick scoot around Twitter and the blogosphere to find out what people are saying about a brand, a company, or in the absence of that – a need. And then come up with an online strategy that will reach out and engage.
If I was to summarise what I’m doing now, it’s less about offering services from a menu - more about listening to the company and having a conversation with the management team about their vision for the business. Our job is to know what’s hot online and to advise on what will work and what won’t work for a particular business. We work with clients to help them to translate their business vision into something that will work well online, generate a return on their investment, and make us all happy.
There you have it! The more things change, the more they stay the same.