A recent study by the Pew Research Institute showed that 92% of Americans use the internet for a search of some sort, 92% also use email and 65% use it for social networking. Daily search engine and email use is at 60%. The graph below provides very interesting insights into the progress of the digital age. Search and email usage have been in the 80-90% range for nearly a decade and social networking has grown to 65% from 15% in 4 years. This growth has not negatively impacted search engine or email use and the social network “rate of growth” has slowed a little. Pew also released a different study showing that 35% of Americans now own a smartphone. To explain: 83% of U.S. adults have a cell phone of some kind and 42% of them own a smartphone. That translates into 35% of all adults have a smart phone.
Online Marketing – a no-brainer for business?
Given all this information you would think every business leader, from a Fortune 500 CEO to the owner of corner shop would embrace every aspect of online marketing. Not true in our experience. There is a strange fear that exists for most. Similar to a child confronting something entirely new, attracted by the gaudy shine, reaching out delicately with fingers outstretched and body arched away. The child knows it wants the trinket, yet there is such a fear of the consequences of complete commitment that the object of desire is never fully embraced.
What drives the fear?
There are all sorts of theories about why this is happening:
- The generation gap between the age of business leaders and those leading development of digital media.
- The recession is keeping heads in the sand.
- It is a completely new discipline that requires a new understanding.
- It takes a lot of time and effort to do properly.
All of these probably have an impact. Our belief though is that the core reason runs deeper. Its more tied to a fear of change. Business has operated in very similar fashion for a generation. Broadcast and print advertising were the best options. Pushing out a message to potential customers. Even better the business controlled the message. Now things have changed. The customer controls the message.
How to close the gap
The bad news is it can be a significant gap, the good news is, it doesn’t all have to be done at once. The first step is understanding what Online Marketing really is and how to utilize it for your business. There is a wealth of information online if you have the time to research and verify the source you can educate yourself. Our Online Marketing Training programs provide up to date and comprehensive training modules centered around your business. Once you understand how online marketing works and how it can fit with your business; then choose your strategy. Implement your strategy with energy and long term commitment. Most importantly:
Start and complete the process of changing your company culture to embrace the new age. Develop an open and mutual communication with your customers. Openly engage and empower them. The unfortunate truth is if you are frightened of what your customers will say then you are doing something wrong. Worse they are probably already saying it somewhere online. The digital age is about open communication: if you are not in the conversation it is still happening. So join the conversation.