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by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes

I was called into talk with a customer the other day.

The conversation started in a very guarded way but it soon became obvious they had been burned by many a “digital marketing agency”.  Well every “old school” PR agency and advertising agency has rebranded itself as a “digital marketing agency” now.

The conversation went like this:-

Customer: So you’re a digital marketing agency then?

Me: No. We are a Social Media Management consultancy.

Customer: What do you mean?

So I went through with them that things had changed, digital marketing didn’t work anymore. Like  Apple Music, 10 years ago it was all about downloading music, now things have evolved and now people stream music. The same with digital marketing, many of the traditions of digital marketing are no longer relevant as the buyer has evolved and become more sophisticated.

The customer sat there open mouthed.

Customer: Do you recommend email marketing?

Me: No. Nobody reads emails anymore and with GDPR around the corner there is no way a company of your size can take on the processes required to support GDPR.

Customer: The last digital marketing agency recommended we sent out press releases.

This is when I realised how bad the situation was.

Me:  What happened? I asked.

Customer: Nothing. Unsurprising was the answer!

The the customer asked me a question I get get asked a lot and for me it’s the Million dollar question.

Customer: What for you is the measure you would use on the project?

Me: Revenue.

Customer:  You mean, the measure isn’t “eyeballs”.

There you have it, straight out of the 1970s a good old advertising or PR agency measure.

If you don’t know what “eyeballs” are…Say a newspaper (remember them?) sells 60,000 copies and each copy is read by 2 people, and you place an advert in the newspaper. You should expect 120,000 eyeballs on your ad.

Sounds great? No.

Just because you place an ad in a paper, on TV or even on Facebook doesn’t mean that anybody will see it or read it.

My business partner, tells the story of driving to see a client and them asking him if he had seen an ad they had placed by the side of the road. The client had been sold on “eyeballs” and not on whether the ad would sell you more.  

I’m amazed how many conversations I have with people that seem to accept vanity metrics on projects. I’m not saying that every project is a failure, but surely what you want is to get more meetings and sell more?

One person told me “I thought he would know something about digital marketing as he had a beard”.

The era of corporate marketing has passed…

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