Forest through the Trees Part 3

The Tail is Wagging the Dog

Do you find yourself trying to get a handle on this ever-evolving world of digital advertising? When you finally figure out one method of advertising, you’re told that it’s no longer relevant and you need to learn about and understand the next new thing? We’ll call it “shiny object” syndrome.

You probably went to college and studied some form of business. While there, they taught you the importance of marketing, knowing your consumer, and understanding what fuels a better bottom line. Experience has taught you that quality and quantity are not necessarily equal to your bottom line. You believe in your products; your company’s R&D department works hard to achieve higher goals; and your HR department attempts to better the lives of everyone working in your company one way or another. You have all the makings for a profitable business.

Then you find that a self-made, self-serving, internet industry has risen from the dirt in the past 20 years and changed all the rules. These multi-billion-dollar companies are preaching what you need to do for your business. “Millennials this” and “Millennials that” is their new mantra. They now tell you that ROI is insignificant and you don’t need to tout your products’ virtues. They preach that people want to buy from companies that uplift their self- image. “It’s important to be an environmentally friendly company.” “Be a company that donates to charity.” These are things that will gain you respect from and grow your business with this newer generation. “Don’t worry about ROI,” just get people to “like you.” The money will follow. The digital companies repeatedly say these things to the companies who purchase their services, while they, themselves, continue merging, expanding and increasing their own profits.

Companies like Apple have taught an entire market that owning their products is like being in a special club, and then they make their products obsolete so that consumers have to buy new ones at higher prices. Gaining revenue is exactly why Facebook purchased Instagram, Oculus and WhatsApp and why Google owns You Tube, Blogger and a slew of other sites. They have a focus on their bottom line.

The Internet giants need more avenues to create advertising opportunities, so they can sell them to you. The more they create, the more inventory there is, the more noise they generate, and the more expensive it is for you to rise above that noise. See the cycle? It’s the tail wagging the dog! So where does this put you and your business? You’re punished if you do anything but sit around a campfire and sing Kumbaya and hand out free Smores!

While digital media is a necessary medium, you want to remember that those who hit it big usually spend big. Sure, there are exceptions to every rule, but look at the most successful digital stories and you will find very deep pockets. So invest in digital, but not at all costs.

To build a solid plan, you’ll still need to utilize traditional medium. Despite what the digital giants and ad mags say, these mediums are not dead and people still see and appreciate them. Even millennials. Find that hard to believe? Then ask yourself this. Do you consider electronics, website, software and tech companies, high tech performers? If so, then why aren’t they 100% invested in digital only? Just look at a brief list of TV advertisers: Airbnb, Trivago, Expedia, Apple, Samsung, IBM, Microsoft, Match, AT&T, Verizon, Xfinity, Dish and Direct. Even the all mighty Netflix uses TV to get their message out. Don’t they sell to Millennials? I believe they do. And it’s not only TV. I just saw an entirely new Apple I Phone campaign on an outdoor billboard!

The fact is you need to look at all the advertising avenues available to you, not just one. Sure, “used car, hard selling” tactics aren’t the best tactics, but if you believe in what you do, then say it, wear it, and make sure everyone else knows it too, no matter what medium you use.

So, take a breath, stay focused on what truly matters to your company, and take a well-balanced approach. You’ll still want to donate, take pride in going green, and promote clean water, but you’ll no longer be doing it as a photo-op or to find favor with some. You’ll be doing it, because you mean it, and donating anonymously is a beautiful thing. Remember, what really matters is how you carry yourself when no one else is looking! And one more thing, a millennial may be a millennial forever, but they won’t always be 25 years old. And those of us with a little gray on the temples have one thing none of them have: the experience to know there are cycles. While these cycles may change, they never stop, so it’s important to stay consistent.

In my last article of this four-article series I’ll cover how your agency needs to continue to educate you and themselves, while striving to shield your company from the hysteria and fraud that abounds in the digital ad world. By collaborating, you will strengthen your position in the market with this generation.

Until then, I’ll see you around the water cooler app!

To read the next article in the series, “Toll Takers vs. Watchdogs” click here.