Now don’t get me wrong, I’d be the first to point out what an incredible feat of engineering the internet is and the ability of the WWW to disseminate information in such quantity and at such speed fills me with awe. It’s exponential rate of growth over the past two decades has also been phenomenal along with the realisation of the digital world of which it is a major part, yet the web is now suffering from its own cleverness, it has reached a point where one starts to ask; what is the point?
The problem is that the the majority of information that we are presented with is trying to sell us something, not just physical goods but also financial services, programmes (apps if you must) political and religious ideas and ideals and plenty of other ‘stuff’ that we neither want nor care much about. Those of us who actually want to find out things, useful facts and so on, are left to pick our way through this lush jungle of colour to try and find occasional morsels of meat amongst the empty promise of bamboo shoots.
This brings me on to my second declaration where I would point out that I am not against using the web as a sales channel per se, not at all, however, in the minds of far too many this has become the sole reason for it’s existence and we need to remind ourselves that this is not the case at all. We’d all do well to sit back with a coffee and reflect upon what the web is actually meant to be about rather than try and devise ever more intrusive ways to impose a product on peoples conscience in the hope that they might buy it, because that is ultimately counter productive and I think we are already seeing the law of diminishing returns coming into play.
I look around the web, I read the the various self elected gurus pontificating on the finer points of the latest piece of genius they have alighted upon, I see the hollow blandness of ‘white space’ being elevated to an art form to cover for the idleness of not doing a proper job, I listen to those who pretend they hold the key to the dark art of web marketing and I really struggle to connect much of it to the world that the rest of us inhabit. Yet they continue to fill the bowl with the popcorn of futility and wonder why they are having to run ever faster just to keep up.
I should, at this point, also point out that there are companies who aware of the pitfalls and perils of overselling themselves on the web and strive to create an informative and intelligent presence that compliments an overall marketing strategy rather than replacing it entirely. Balance and planning are good things, but not always present in any great quantity.
To illustrate what I mean there is one particular basic fact of commercial life that is so often overlooked that one feels that it is deliberately ignored for fear that it might upset the pretty fabrications of the experts, and that is every business is different! I know I know, it must come as a shock to the lads and lasses who take an abstract concept of what a business actually is and then try and apply a standardised answer not realising that this is the reason they are so often ignored. A self employed person providing a service such as plumbing or printing has not the same aspirations and needs as a multinational, nor may they appeal to the same customer base, sorry, cohort. Big companies have the resources to set up and target a web based marketing campaign with constant adjustments and updates, smaller firms generally do not, so why talk about them as if they have?
These disparate factors have led to all sorts of answers being sought and the flooding of the web with nonsensical attempts at flogging stuff because everybody believes there is one magic song sheet to sing from, there isn’t! So if we are going to discuss web based marketing strategies then we need to make it quite clear as to what sort of businesses we are addressing our concerns, advice and comments before jumping on a bandwagon and driving it down everybody’s throats without a thought as to whether it is a suitable pill or not.
As I stated at the beginning, the internet and web are incredible achievements but I fear we do stand to lose many of the opportunities they present through careless and unthoughtful pursuit of a common ideal. One size does not fit all, nor does the web have all the answers, printed media is still very valid as an advertising tool in many fields, but that’s another blog altogether.