Jim Murray

4 years ago · 4 min. reading time · visibility 0 ·

chat Contact the author

thumb_up Relevant message Comment

Is Digital Marketing Really All It’s Cracked Up To Be?

~ Jim Murray ~
Communication Strategist ® Writer ® Editor © Op-Ed Blogger
Art Director ® Project Manager * beBee Brand Ambassador
Partner with Charlene Norman @ Bullet Proof Consulting

With an experience base that bridges
the Digital Divide by a good two decodes,

| work with direct clients large & small,
designers, art/crective directors & consultants
fo create results-driven, strategically-focused
communication in all on & offline media.

Phone: 289 687
For the past couple of years or so I have been commenting about on-line marketing, mainly through channels like social media and all the various forms of content management.
My main view has been that while all this activity may seem like it’s worthwhile, for a lot of businesses, who have had a couple of years to experiment with it, this effort has turned out to be pretty much useless.
For some it has led to a re-examination of all the hype generated by the main social media platforms, where they find that all this activity is being recommended by people whose vested interest is in making their own businesses grow by getting their clients involved in online program.
I have talked to a lot of different people about this and the general consensus boils down to a few important points.
1. On line marketing, in the form of content management and social media programs, only works for a relatively small percentage of businesses. And the majority of those businesses are marketers who teach and manage content management and social media program development techniques. The remainder are primarily composed of businesses in the retail sector, who use social media platforms to create buzz for their business, and offer the kinds of products and services that people like to recommend. (ie restaurants, technology repair, home repair etc or people with a genuinely unique service). And, of course the big online retailers like  Amazon, Ali Baba and E-Bay.
2. The web site remains the most important marketing tool in your online marketing arsenal,
especially if you are in the service business in any way, shape or form. Your web site, or portfolio site (in my case), gives people the ability to check you out in much greater depth than they can by reading a LinkedIn profile, or following your blog, although both of those are important supper tools.
3. People have been brainwashed into believing that if they post something really interesting on a social or business media site, that a great many of the people they are directly connected with will forward their really interesting stuff to all the people they know. This is simply a myth, governed by something called the 1% rule, which is pretty self-explanatory.
4. A lot of the so called “social media success stories”you hear about, generally are the result of considerable support spending in conventional media to drive traffic to the online site. Marketers will try and convince you that if, say, Coca Cola can do it, then you can too. They forget to add that Coca Cola is one of the most recognized brands in the world and spends millions to keep that positioning. Anything they do online, while creative and intriguing, is actually activity they could easily do without.
Now don’t get me wrong…it’s good to have an online presence in addition to your web site. But how good? How much time you should be spending on it? And how much importance should you place on it?
Well, it simply depends quite simply on the return you are getting. If it’s not enough, you need to treat is either as a loss leader or get the hell out before it costs you too much time and expense to recoup.

The Truth Is That Nobody’s Really Sure

Back in the day before the Internet, communications was a lot simpler. There was media advertising, trade advertising, outdoor and transit advertising, public relations, direct mail & promotion.
These media had been around for a long time and their reach and frequency formulae were all tried and true. You knew what you were getting and you had, at least, a rough expectation of results, with the actual creative and the strength of the offering being the variables.
In today’s world of online media, it’s nowhere near that simple, because virtually everything is a moving target. In order to be seen you almost need to be ubiquitous and this no longer entails just creating one campaign and letting the media do the heavy lifting.


It means generating ‘meaningful and engaging’ content in large volumes and stimulating response from an audience with index fingers that never leave the scroll bar. And that’s just the relationship building part.
Having come from the ad agency world, I know exactly how difficult it is to come up with a single ad, commercial or campaign concept that resonates with the target audience and stimulates interest enough to trigger purchase.
In today’s world, I would suggest that achieving these same results through content management and social media programs is, at the very least, 10 times more difficult.

The More Things Change, The More You Start Wondering If Change Is Overrated

A number of companies that I know have come full circle with digital media, and where they find themselves is exhausted from the effort to make their content management and social media programs go, and frustrated at how unbalanced the effort vs result scale has become for them.
Suddenly, all the stuff they used to do…ie stuff they cut back on in order to fund their exploration into the world digital advertising, content management and social media now appears to have a whole new appeal for them.

Horses for Courses

Having said all of the above, it’s important to understand that Internet based media is a fact of life. Whether it’s a fact of your life or not is a matter than only you can decide. And it’s a tough decision.


As businesses of all kinds enter into this particular area of marketing, there has been and will probably continue to be more failure than success. And frankly, the only way to really find out for sure is to try it for a period of time.
Or wait. Because, sooner or later, visible trends will start to develop, and you will be able to get a clearer picture of the viability of these media for your business.
Right now, anybody who is using these media as part of their branding and marketing programs is, quite frankly, an Internet marketing guinea pig. Some will win. Some will not.
It’s just the nature of the beast.
PS: I just saw this mini post from a social media marketer...it really kind of says it all, in terms of the proposition. "Each social network has its own ever-evolving culture and etiquette that takes constant vigilance and first-hand experience to master. In order to succeed in social, you have to keep up.”
That’s all well and good, and definitely a true thing. But at the end of the day you have to keep asking yourself a very big three word question…Where’s The ROI?

Jim Murray is a communication strategist, writer, art director blogger and beBee brand ambassador for Canada. His partner, Charlene Norman is a business systems and operational analyst. Their collaboration is called Bullet Proof Consulting, headquartered in St Catharines, Ontario and designed to serve forward thinking businesses in the Niagara and Golden Horseshoe regions of Southern Ontario. Web site coming soon.

You can find out more about us at: http://tinyurl.com/y9zc9gvx

All content Copyright Onwords & Upwords Inc 2017. All rights reserved.

thumb_up Relevant message Comment
Good article.
The sharing factor depends on the kind of relationship you have with your known audience, called followers and the real audience (3rd layer), if you witness only 1% it is great time to ask yourselves the right questions. MailChimps keeps standards of click through and sharing rates, you can compare when you analyze your newsletters performance.Writing without marketing your content is like pedaling without sweating. Being a good marketer of your quality content is essential, or you can leave the work to the Publisher (Paper version) that is why they earn so much money.

Jim Murray

4 years ago #7

I love it Martin Wright

Martin Wright

4 years ago #6

the problem with a lot if internet marketing is it does anyrhing to get your attention. However, for many that just means getting in your way when you want to read something else, becoming an irritant, becoming that screen object which makes you shout out "will you just fuck off!?" To the screen. A total marketing switch off. Marketing is about turning curiosity into income - not 'awareness' into loathing.

Jim Murray

4 years ago #5

Not too many Philpotts in Bulgaria. I love it. You should put it on your business card.

Jim Murray

4 years ago #4

I don't disagree, Don. I write these pieces mostly for people in the B to B services industry, many of whom have expressed their frustration with digital marketers and and the programs they run. There is a lot of commerce on the web, but mostly it involves the selling of products, of which I would call Tv subnets one.

Jerry Fletcher

4 years ago #3

Jim, Online marketing does work but not for everybody. The ones making fortunes, and there are few doing millions annually, all tend to cluster in products that have a tribal appeal. Tribes like survivalists, people pursuing health issues, folks with a very specific need they can't satisfy from local resources, addicts that need their porn or gambling or fighting games. When any part of a market gets out of whack it can occur. Consider the shaving club that started on line using the principle that made Gillette a household name (replaceable razors) that forced a major company to pay them a Billion dollars for their company. I have a client right now that is selling their service on line but it is a software-based, cloud-delivered subscription model which is where I see the on-line approach successful for B2B. Another company I'm advising is one of the best in the nation at SEO and Paid search. Their results require study that never stops and a scientific advertising approach that Claude Hopkins would love!

Phil Friedman

4 years ago #2

Part of the confusion lies with not distinguishing the medium from the means of delivery. An ad is an ad irrespective of whether it's delivered via TV or direct mail or email. Content marketing online is different from loss-leader promotion at a bricks and mortar store only in respect of method of delivery -- the principle is to give something of value away in order to draw customers into a sales situation. The only unique marketing medium offered by digital delivery is -- Inbound Marketing, which is interactive and focuses on building credibility and authority (branding). But Inbound Marketing is out of reach in most situations because it requires expertise in the product and the field in which the product is being marketed. And few marketers want to admit that they lack the ability to deliver that product or field specific expertises in an interactive environment, so end up actually delivering content marketing using basically worthless loss leader giveaways. In other words, the method of delivery differs as between digital vs print vs a sign in a window or on a billboard. The medium -- the approach -- remains the same. IMO. Cheers!

Jim Murray

4 years ago #1

You're right,. I forgot to add retailers like Amazon to the rather short list of people for whom it's working. This was really more directed at B to B services people.

More articles from Jim Murray

View blog
1 month ago · 23 min. reading time

The Resurrection Of Charlie McQueen

This is the first short story I have written in ma ...

1 month ago · 3 min. reading time

The Great Social Media Hatespeak Debate

Over the past few months we have seen the impact t ...

2 months ago · 2 min. reading time


Sometime in the spring of this year, I started a n ...