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Why you should not hire a marketer on your next web venture.

7 Jan

Companies and Entrepreneurs keep hiring digital marketers to develop their web applications / websites. The problem with this practice is that digital marketers, have no idea on how to help you fully capitalize on the full potential of the web which is exactly what you usually need with your new web app/website. Casing point, review a digital marketing proposal and measure how much they discuss the idea of scalability. Some don’t even mention if the idea they are proposing is scalable or not in their presentations. You will find that branding is the biggest issue or concern discussed.

The best they can do is to extend the value of your brand online, and I have read many of their proposals and it involves reviewing what your competitors are doing in your industry and other brand-centric research and crunching that through a hocus-pocus process with some spiffy name and then voila, here is your new web application. Have in mind these digital agency’s use this same processes for other services such as ads on tv’s, signage, etc. Sure, it will have pretty graphics, some great font styling but I am sorry to announce to you that your new web application or website will be no different from a billboard. A billboard? Yes a billboard. Now before you scoff at having a billboards website, remember billboards do work but then if you wanted a billboard you would have asked for one, right? Billboards are great for the branding thing and it gets alot of eyeballs. Companies pour tons of money into these billboard websites to get nothing more than eyeballs.

So lets take a moment to explore what you’re being sold: What is digital Marketing? Well according to wiki, Digital Marketing is the promoting of brands using all forms of digital advertising channels to reach consumers. This now includes , Radio, Internetmobile and any other form of digital media. The issue lies in this thinking – The promoting of brands and forms of advertising channels. Digital Marketing agencies provide the same methods of communicating with an audience which they have done with Television, Print and Radio but in a digital fashion.They have simply broadened their direct marketing practices. And that is why I think, a digital marketer cannot come up with a facebook idea or twitter idea. Digital Marketers minds are not wired that way. They view the web as a form of advertising channel.

Fundamentally most digital marketing agencies processes are derivatives of the 4 or 5 P’s of marketing: Product, Price, Place, Promotion and Positioning. I believe this fundamental process maybe great for a billboard promotion, etc. but can be disastrous if applied to web application design and development. Reviewing most digital agencies portfolios, most of their work is heavy on aesthetics and less on functionality and there’s a reason for that. Most of the these agencies have deep roots in traditional marketing and have just added website development as an additional channel that helps promotes one’s brand. But web applications are not about 4 or 5 P’s, They are about business models. They are fundamentally about how an organization creates, delivers and captures value. Its more about your organizational structure, process and systems than promoting a brand, product or service. I will be diving into more ideas about business models and web application in the next week postings. Stay tuned and let me know what you think.

So to conclude, when do you use a digital marketing agency. I will say that when you need to promote your brand, however, if your goal is create, deliver and capture value, you best bet is bringing in web application experts.

One Response to “Why you should not hire a marketer on your next web venture.”

  1. Harvey July 18, 2011 at 11:30 am #

    Interesting comments. Two key points to make:

    1) the “marketing” you describe is the little picture of what Marketing is about. Real marketers, like P&G, understand that Marketing is first and foremost all about understanding the customer and creating a product to meet their needs/wants. Once you do that, branding and communications are the next step.

    Unfortunately, I agree with your comments about digital agencies. Most are staffed with inexperienced people who were never schooled in the big picture of Marketing. Nor were they even schooled in the primary importance of communication (read David Ogilvy one day) – they’re too enamoured with the latest whiz-bang web candy.

    2) NOT including a Marketer in your Web App development would be just as wrong as not including a UI/UE expert, or coder. It takes several skills to succeed, not all usually found in one person.