I had an interesting conversation with a client yesterday about developing a digital strategy for his 90 year-old, well established and quite successful family business. At the end of our discussion he responded, “I’m not a Facebook guy, I’m an old school businessman.” I responded by telling him there’s a distinction between old school businessmen and new school marketers. His response was, “yeah, but without the old school, you can’t have the new school.”
Although I understood what he meant, the truth is the two are not mutually exclusive. Successful businesses today–and even old school businessmen–need to embrace new technology. While most businesses today are well beyond embracing, pushing everyday to get ahead of the digital curve, I’m continually surprised at how many businesses are still confused and uncertain about how, and even if, to start to venture into digital. If you’re one of those, this blog is written for you.
If you’re reading this story on a smartphone or tablet, you’re not the only one. Nearly half of the adult American population owns a smartphone. That’s according to “Smartphone Ownership Update: September 2012” released by Pew Internet & American Life Project. Of that group, 46% are men and 45% are women. Young adults are most likely to own a smartphone. 66% of those in the 18 to 29 age group own an iPhone, Android, or other smartphone; 59% in the 30 to 49 age group; 34% in the 50 to 64 age group; and 11% of those over 65 years old. Additionally, 80% of all Americans use the internet.
These are your customers and/or potential customers and they now depend on digital technology to text, email, Facebook, Tweet, Pin, watch videos and TV, listen to radio and music, communicate, connect, take and share photos, search, buy, compare products and prices, blog, post, comment–and they’re doing it 24/7. Technology has simply changed the way we live our lives and it continues to evolve each and every day without any sign of ever slowing down.
The digital era is here to stay and unprecedented amounts of content and chatter are flooding the pipelines at the speed of light. Marketers are devising and testing new methods to engage with customers digitally everyday, (or should be) some better than others. What and where are your billboards? How easy are they to find, and what are people saying about them on the digital highway?
Businesses that aren’t marketing or creating branded content to connect via digital media risk becoming virtually irrelevant or invisible, and will eventually get edged out by businesses that are. Bottom line, you’re either part of the connected planet or you’re sitting idle on the curb missing sales opportunities and revenue.
Being an old school businessman is indeed admirable. Even making a claim that you’re “not a Facebook guy” while a billion others are seems like an appropriately bold statement for any maverick businessman to boast, but only as long as your new school customers who are looking for you on the digital highway (right now) are able to find you.
Written by Bruce Burke, Partner, Beyond Branding