Old School vs New School Marketing


online marketingMy Dad’s birthday was last week.

Relating to my father is a lot harder than it used to be. Mostly because he has no idea what I do for a living, especially now that I do it from the comfort of my apartment. When I was still in school, he got it. He may have mocked my Journalism degree or the need to even educate a girl (welcome to my life), but he understood what it was. Journalism. That’s like newspapers and stuff.

Now? Well, now I say words like “brands”, “blogs” and “social media” and he has no clue.

In an attempt to be thoughtful, I collected some marketing books and sent them to him. Books like E-Myth Revisited, Don’t Make Me Think, the stuff that is classic in our little bubble. I hoped that if I could nail the whole “I build brands” thing into his head he’d stop telling people that I worked as a secretary at Google. And that my little brother would stop telling him I was a pirate.

After reading the books, he called me this morning. To yell at me. In Italian.

What the hell was wrong with me? Why was I insulting him? Did I think he was an idiot? He’s a successful business man. He knows all about trust and customers and building relationships and running a small business. He had been doing it for years. The information I sent him was nothing new. Why haven’t I learned to cook yet?

A few things immediately hit me.

  • The basic principles of business and marketing haven’t changed. However, that doesn’t mean people are any better about implementing them.
  • Today’s empowered consumer means that “the basics” are more important than ever. Because now if someone doesn’t like you, it’s not just them and their three friends that hear about it. We all hear.
  • It is absolutely impossible to buy my father a gift he will not complain about. For Christmas he gets a white flag.

He’s right, though. The ideas we’re preaching in social media (listening, reaching out, engaging, etc) aren’t “new”. They’re not shiny or flashy and we haven’t invented anything. Social media marketing and online reputation management, for the most part, are about customer service. They’re about going out of your way to treat someone twice as well as they expect to be treated so that they don’t walk away – they skip. And while they’re skipping they tell everyone they know.

What has changed in marketing is a shift in going back to what matters. Ten years ago, consumers didn’t have voices so businesses got away with a lot more.  Believe me, I’ve listened to my father speak to people on the phone.  It makes Rae look like a saint (I love you, Dad). In today’s world, people have voices. It’s not enough to just know the basics of marketing, you need to create a strategy on how you’re going to be implementing them. That’s what so many companies are missing out on – the strategy. That’s where they’re losing opportunities. That’s what’s getting them on the front page of social media for all the wrong reasons. That’s why they’re losing customers and dinging their brands.

There’s a difference between “knowing” and “doing”.

I’m pretty sure Barack Obama knew he shouldn’t have called Kanye West a “jackass”. Even if he was “off the record”, he’s smart enough to know that he’s the President Of The United States and that “off the record” doesn’t exist. He probably also knew it wasn’t wise to call police officers “stupid” either. But again, he did. And someone had to come in and clean up the reputation management problem he created.

Today’s marketing involves understanding your audience, knowing how to reach them on their terms, knowing how to respond and when to take the microphone away from the President of the United States. It’s about knowing the tools of today and knowing how to play them. It’s not about the cold calls my father used to make in his insurance business. It’s actually the opposite. It’s about never having to make another cold call in your life.

If you’re a brand, a CEO or even just the guy or gal that cleans up at night, everything you say is now “on the record”. That’s the world we live in. Like my Dad, you’ve probably heard of the basics, but do you know how to implement these strategies into your day-to-day business? Do you know how the on-the-record of today changes how you do things? Because if you don’t and you don’t have a plan for it, then you really don’t “know” anything and you definitely don’t know how to make your company competitive in the new market.

Sorry, Dad.


Your Comments

  • Tim Staines

    Arrrgh, me thinks we’re all Pirates to that generation. They don’t need to understand the new market because they’re not really affected by it. To understand something new you have to want or need to understand it, and they just don’t need to understand the new market.
    Your point is not lost on me though, if you’re still a working sap you need to understand the new market. If you don’t want to understand you are handicapping yourself and your business . . . we all see this all the time, I’m sure.
    Note: Since TLAP day is on Saturday, I had to get “Arrrgh” in early.

  • Jason Black

    I think the Prez may actually have scored a win RE Kanye. He spoke, in frank terms, what basically everyone else is thinking. It was not, in that sense, a controversial utterance but rather one that the vast majority of people who hear that clip will find personally _validating_. “I must not be so off base if the President thinks Kanye West is a jackass, too.”

    Either way, West himself is rapidly heading into Epic Fail, internet meme territory. Have you seen this, for example?


  • Mark LaPolla

    Indeed, I wish I’d had that pirate line in my back pocket 20 years ago. I could have used it on MY dad when he kept asking me what MY brother was doing. Computers he understood and I always left it at that but linguistics? Branding is most difficult with your parents.

  • Nelson Bruton

    Very well written. Here is my favorite description of social media I have read so far: “Social media marketing and online reputation management, for the most part, are about customer service. They’re about going out of your way to treat someone twice as well as they expect to be treated so that they don’t walk away – they skip. And while they’re skipping they tell everyone they know.”

    Great stuff!

  • Robert Enriquez

    Omg suspenders? Nerdiness runs in the family :) {ducks and runs for his life}

  • DangerMouse

    This post really resonates with me. I’ve been beating this drum as an inhouse online marketer for quite some time – people seem to find it so difficult to just ‘get’ it.

  • Lisa Barone

    Tim: I guess you’re right in that this “new way” of doing things really has no affect on my father whatsoever. He’s retired, but even if he wasn’t, I imagine “his kind” are doing things exactly the same way that they’ve always been. And people like it that way. I’m glad you managed to get your TLAP reference in there. :)

    Jason: Eh, I don’t think people really needed the President to vaildate that their thinking that Kanye West is, in fact, a jackass. And even if they did need it, he shouldn’t have given it to them. He can be as “cool” and “hip” as he’d like, but he’s still the President of the United States. And he shouldn’t be calling people jackasses in public and taped. He should know better. And he does know better.

    Mark: I usually tell my father “marketing”, but he still comes away with the secretary line. One day I’ll hopefully come to terms with it. Right now, however, it makes me want to kick someone.

    Nelson: Glad you liked it. Thanks!

    Robert: Hey, you watch it! Those suspenders are actually the ONLY thing that will keep his pants up.

    Danger: Maybe you can just forward it off to people from now on. :)

  • Kim Krause Berg

    This post brings tears to my eyes, Lisa. I put myself through college for Journalism because my father didn’t believe in educating women. Being on my own since age 16, I ran out of money and financial aid, and President Reagan cut off student loans, so I never got my degree.

    It took me over 30 years to prove to him I was smart. He does understand what I do and is now one of my biggest supporters. May you have the same result, only in a much shorter span of time!

  • Lisa Barone

    I think my dad understands that I’m intelligent. He’s just not so sure I have a real job or that I’m going to be able to support myself. He’d also like me to learn to make sauce, to give him a namesake of a grandson, and to become a teacher like all of his friends’ daughters. You know, the important things. :)

  • Daniel Redman

    It’s pretty pretentious and annoying when marketers do refer to their strategies as groundbreaking, cutting edge, or the future of…

    Call me conservative but at the core of every strategy is probably the same belief system or rationale that Ogilvy had in the late 40’s. Unless you plan on smacking someone’s face in the name of advertising, you probably aren’t striking conceptual gold.

    Great post, Lisa.

  • Luci Weston

    Terrific post!

    Both of my parents have no clue what this “blogging thing” is about. I overheard my mother telling someone at a party that I was “doing something with the computer.”

    I especially like your point about everything being on the record these days. Without being paranoid, one has to assume that a camera or recording device is within range at all times. The old adage, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” takes on new meaning in today’s digital age.

  • Kae Kohl

    Just when I think you can’t surprise me any more, you do (about the dad stuff). Great post about old and new. We teach people that it’s just like that guy who had the hardware store on the corner 100 years ago. Only now when he sells you a crappy wrench, the whole world could know.

    I don’t think the urge to kick one’s dad ends much before 40. But you might beat the odds ;)

  • Yawn Webmaster!

    Well, you’ve certainly engaged me more now.

    E credo che questo sia il tuo post migliore.
    Ciao, da Italia.


  • DeneneWrites

    I think the deal with President Obama is kind of funny. And the fact that most people agree that Kanye is a “jackass” makes this another lesson that needs to hit home a few more times in national media for people to get the picture: If you’re in the public eye your words can hit the streets a few seconds after they left your lips!

  • Doug Sandquist

    Enjoyed your post Lisa, I with my dad, and have for 11 years…Your dad is right, it’s all the same stuff. I tried for years to allow “new” or “tech”, or a “webpage” to the business… thinking it was a better way… it’s the relationships, no matter how they develop, in person, or online that matter. My dad finally got it when I searched his name in Google and found a report on Angie’s List. The recorder is on everyday. Learning how this stuff works should change normal business interactions for the better, it has for us.

  • George Bounacos

    This is so spot-on that it should be required for anyone who says they’re a new media anything. Because the old media folks understand everything about conversion and ROAS and branding and continuity having invented most of it.

    The difference is that we don’t rent a list, hire a lettershop and count results in a spreadsheet for the next 3 weeks like I did early in my career. Now, given enough data, we can do true A/B or MVT splits and come away with actionable data in hours.

    So your Dad is spot-on too. What would probably blow his mind is that the barrier to entry to hanging out a shingle is so low. Cost was a relatively effective barrier in print days. Now with that barrier lowered, it’s much easier for any secretary at Google (even those who can’t cook) to track things marketers only dreamed of tracking back in the day.

    Sometimes though I get a strong “tell me the time, not how to make the watch” message from older clients who want to know the possibilities. Then younger clients decide they want keyword lists for their campaigns because they just know their market better than any keyword research ever.

    Marketing’s sword has many edges.

  • Kae Kohl

    Btw, Lisa, you can tell your dad you ARE a teacher. Just not in a four-walled classroom. Doesn’t make your students appreciate you any less, however. Now, I just need to find a way to get you a shiny, red virtual apple to prove it.

  • Mendy Fristoe

    I completely agree with the above comment, the world-wide-web is with a doubt growing into the a first-rate number of important medium of communication across the globe and its due to sites like this that ideas are spreading so quickly. My best wishes, Alda.