My Company’s Ideas About Marketing Are Wrong (And What We’re Doing To Help Improve The Conversation)

Digital marketing, digital marketing, DIGITAL MARKETING. It’s great. And who does it work for? Digital-natives. Who doesn’t it work for? Digital-foreigners, because they’re still analog. Who needs help along the way if there’s hope for any meaningful impact? Digital-immigrants. 


We can’t reach people that aren’t on LinkedIn with LinkedIn. It sounds obvious, but it’s important. Digital-foreigners don’t even care about “the land of LinkedIn,” and if we really want to reach them at all, we’ll need to understand their customs first. The same is true for Instagram, Facebook, podcasts, and subscribers to the physical edition of Barron’s. There are nations of foreigners who just aren’t there.


Digital-immigrants are often lite users. They might be on LinkedIn, but only to FitIn. Again, local customs prevail if we want to reach this crowd. Digital-immigrants are often curious and may be open to education. A willingness to experiment with a new medium, even as a late adopter, presents the biggest opportunity to figure out how to deliver what they want from the experience and then help them find it.


Digital-natives are the actual target of most properly guided digital marketing. These power users can smell cookie-cutter schemes from a mile away. Unless we’re one of them, we need to respect that they’ve been there longer than we have. Digital-natives are often the keepers of the culture. If we want to engage with them, we have to obey the same cultural norms they abide by. Every culture has its own version of “don’t be that guy.”    


The medium is still the message. Understanding who we approach and how we’re approaching them will always matter. As we think about our marketing strategies, we have to recognize where we ourselves are natives, foreigners, or immigrants to those mediums, and then also understand where our target clients reside.


On the bad side, some things just don’t seem to work, which is we need to always ask “why?” On the awful side, other things might come out as tone deaf if we’re not careful. On the good side, forging connections on platforms where people are open to connecting is brilliant. On the great side, basic relationship building isn’t rocket surgery, so if we line up the odds of what we’re saying to the medium and audience that will be receiving it, we can produce exponentially better outcomes than shots in the dark (hello promises of targeted marketing). 

There’s old lands and new lands, but each of them are distinct places. There’s no need just to constantly chase the new-new things. The key is not to travel blind. Our eyes are open when we know where we are and what we’re trying to accomplish. If we have an open mind, there’s an ever-evolving world out there to explore and tell our story in.