Internet Marketing is more than a phrase, it has become a way of life, but has it replaced the formal meaning, process, and execution of "marketing," and are we seeing an as needed use and interpretation?
There is no question that the Internet has changed everything in our daily life, and even for those who hold on to the beliefs that "I will never get a computer or be a party to droves of useless communications via electronic mail." We know that technology evolution and adaption is happening at a faster and faster pace. Even if you are not connected via a computer, you are affected by the mass amount of information that is extracted from the Internet via day-to-day conversations, radio news, or the printed media.
But, this is not about how technology and the Internet have impacted us. This is about how the Internet free market has adopted concepts, interpretations, phrases, and terms to meet their individual needs and uses.
The definition of marketing, for which there are many (search on "marketing definition" on your favorite search engine), and one in the Merriam-Webster dates back to 1561, all focus on the customer, process, functions, involvement, technique, and the business' activity. These concepts have always, and will continue to be at the center of marketing, and the foundation of marketing is to sell products and services.
The bottom-line is that once you create a product or service and people ask about it, read about it, or find your website, you are marketing to them. The Internet has created a dynamic where you need to be ready to present your product to a customer 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You have to establish a baseline consciousness for your product or service and establish an image and presence that you are comfortable with for prospective customers to read what they want and when they want.
So, yes, Internet Marketing is a way of life. It has to be, especially if you are a progressive company you have learned that you need an Internet Presence to connect with your customers. But, this does not mean a dynamic interpretation of what marketing is, and it does not mean that you can rewrite the definition to meet your needs.
The Internet is a tool, just like television, radio, and print media. They all created a way to connect with a customer, and knowing your customer and what television shows they may watch, what radio stations they may listen to, or what print media they read was essential to budgeting your marketing dollars to reach your customers. Each medium creates a different way to connect with a customer, and it requires that you create a plan of action, define an outcome, measure results, and review the results for inclusion or deletion in future budgets and plans.
Certain products and services have created a level of mystery with respect to the Internet, and this allows certain companies to dynamically create and interpret how they use the term "marketing" under the guise of Internet Marketing. A new product or service may not have a track record of how a customer will use it, and one of the most important components of marketing is to know your customer. But, many new products and services come at us with a tremendous amount of hype and fanfare. Thus, there is pressure that we need to act. Some companies are selling new concepts under the umbrella of "this is new marketing, this is Internet Marketing."
Thus, what has changed? Nothing, except we now believe that because of the Internet we have to act faster, that we can take ideas to market quicker, and that if you are not in the know you are not progressive. Hogwash, as the saying goes.
There are differences when using the Internet to connect with your customers, such as, the Internet provides a platform for you to open up a dialogue with a customer, solicit their feedback, opinion, or have them sign up to be a passive but informed contact. This means that this Marketing channel, the Internet, requires a different focus and attention to manage how you communicate, what you communicate, and where you communicate with your customer. But, it has not replaced "Marketing," it is just a new channel.
In the end, the elements of a good marketing campaign are still essential to being successful in attracting and retaining customers. So, do not get caught up in all the hype and hoopla. Keep a focus on what your company stands for; what you have to offer; and most of all, understand what your customer needs, who they are, and where you can find them. With an understanding of this information, you will be able to evaluate any new concept or idea to see if it fits your specific requirements, as well as how it may add to establishing a progressive Internet Presence.
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