Search is from Saturn Traditional Marketing is from Mars- part 2


In part one I aimed to address the fact that because there still tends to be such a wide divide between the mindset of the traditional marketing agency person and the search marketing person that often times clients do not get the best return on their investment. I asked for examples of this but instead received at least one comment, that I expected, which revolved around the idea that the traditional advertising agencies are run by dinosaurs and they will go extinct. While in some cases that maybe the case what I am trying to establish is why these worlds are so far apart? How does this divide specifically end up harming our clients’ return on investment? Let’s face it- those of us from the search side of the isle have seen the following time and time again. A traditional agency designs a site for a client that has:

  • High end agency quality graphics
  • The major branding message scrawled across the most valuable real estate on the home page
  • The site is done in all flash and or any semblance of valuable key words are hidden in images

It is clear to us that these sites are putting their clients at a competitive disadvantage on-line because they have no visibility on the search engines and even if they do find a way to direct traffic to the site (probably a very poorly designed pay per click program) the site chases away the visitors because the site is not providing them the information they are looking for. Instead it is presenting a branding slogan without context and is therefore providing the user, and in turn the client, zero value. By the way my favorite is a site for a local multi-divisional manufacturing company whose home page repeats the slogan from their corporate brochure “The Next Big Thing.” The site is beautiful from a graphics standpoint. You can tell that there was art direction at every point just by looking at the way the color schemes flow through the various photos and images presented. However, I have asked probably 100 persons over the past couple of years to tell me what the company does and not one of them got it right. There is no way this site could be found on the search engines because there was no consideration given to that in the site architecture or format of the pages. In addition, the usability is cumbersome at best, given the non-conventional navigation structure. From the search professionals these are no brainers. However, what is probably not as much of a no brainer is when search marketing companies build sites that completely ignore the companies brand and how best to present that brand on-line. After all, just because you are on-line doesn’t mean that being consistent in the presentation of your brand isn’t important. When we ignore brand completely and just concern ourselves with making sure the site is found we too are guilty of not fully leveraging our client’s investments. However, in most cases it seems that neither side has much of an interest in trying to understand each other. It is as if search agencies want to revel in the fact that they are the new wave and all those traditional marketing people are “dinosaurs” and the traditional agencies continue to miss the point that they are delivering a message in a completely different context and it therefore needs to be crafted in a completely different way? So with that said what do these two worlds look like? What do the beings on the search oriented planet of Saturn value vs. the traditional advertising planet of Mars? Planet Values & Perspectives

Saturn – the planet of Search Mars- the planet of traditional Advertising
Be found by a potential customer Push out a message to a “target market”
Validate the users search interests Get the prospects attention
Provide a path to discovery Make a sales pitch
Usability and functionality Creativity
User experience Look and feel
Conversion rates Impressions
Increase the Client Sales

Even though the above chart clearly shows how different these worlds are the one thing everyone in both worlds hopes to do is increase the clients sales. The problem is each group goes about trying to accomplish this is in polar opposite ways. It is not that one approach is better than another but that they are completely different ways to accomplish the same goal which is to increase the client’s sales. What is most frustrating to the search community is that all too often the traditional advertising professional fails to understand that when you apply traditional push marketing methods in a search environment you do your client a major disservice and greatly reduce their return on investment. What we need to work to explore more fully is how to bring these worlds together to maximize the clients return on their investment. Agencies that learn to do this will in the end rule the new world of Integrated Marketing and thus dominate the galaxy. Note: In my last post I mentioned that I had been in search marketing for over 25 years but as most of you are aware the Internet has not been around that long, at least a marketing tool. That being the case you may wonder how one could be in search marketing for that long? The answer is that prior to the Internet there was still a lot of searching going on. That searching was going on in directories and yellow pages. I was with the top industrial directory in print and even back then we were fighting the same fight. We knew our directory advertising would generate 10 times as many calls as the trade journal ads (we had conclusive data to prove it) yet every time an agency guy would get a hold of one of these programs it would be either completely eliminated or scaled back to almost nothing. You see even back then these agency guys didn’t appreciate the power of search. They didn’t understand it either, which was exemplified when one year the BMA opened up an awards category for directory ads. The winner was for a “crane manufacture”. Did the add contain information on the types of cranes this company manufactured? The type of applications for their cranes? Spec?  Bold contact information, etc.? – the kind of information a person searching for a crane supplier would want to know? Absolutely not! It contained a picture of a Bird (a crane) with some useless slogan. It contained no  useful product information. The ad didn’t even have a phone number!!! A directory ad without a phone number!!!! Yet the traditional advertising people sitting in as judges had no more sense of how search marketing worked back then than they do today. However, now they have a much greater financial incentive to do so, so there is still hope.