Is Ignorance Holding Your Business Back?

What’s holding your business back? What’s stopping it from achieving its full potential? Be honest with yourself. Is it simply all down to a lack of investment, a shortage of capital or just a case of risk-aversion? Well, it’s none of those things believe it or not, though I’m sure a lack of funds must play a part in there some where. No, according to Alexis Dormandy, Founder of LoveThis.com, writing in yesterday’s Telegraph, it’s the people at the top who’re to blame: the 40-something senior marketing managers who’ve climbed their way up the greasy pole, but cut their business-teeth in an age before computers. They either can’t get their heads around the advent of the social media and the likes of Facebook, or are just too plain scared to admit their ignorance.

If that sounds a little far-fetched, then think about it. Apparently every time a person writes on Facebook that they’ve bought a ticket through Ticketmaster, their friends will apparently spend an additional $5.30. How about this one then? When Google’s conference was taking place last year it tweeted on the morning of the conference that there were 100 tickets left at a cost of $550. To buy one you had to use a special promotion code. 11 minutes later all 55 tickets were sold.  All of these transactions were completed using e-commerce. E-commerce figures are expected to top $1.4 trillion by 2015, with a substantial proportion of these sales going through social media sites like Facebook.

So, why are so many big businesses frightened to grab the bull by the horns and loathe to stick their snouts in the social media/e-commerce troughs, when the evidence that social commerce works is so overwhelming? It’s back to the 40-somethings again I’m afraid. These senior managers didn’t need computers to get where they are today. They achieved their success without the help of Mark Zuckerberg and his cronies. They grew up, in business terms at least, in the world of client portfolios, billboard campaigns and joint promotions, and that’s where they still feel most comfortable. They are traditionalists who’ve always conducted their business in a certain way, and fully intend to stick with these tried and tested methods. But tradition’s only fine, if it’s not costing you business and money.

If you go back a decade, marketing could mean spending millions on a TV campaign. Maybe a few million people would watch the advert, but only a few hundred thousand might buy the product. Google changed all that irrevocably. Adwords gave marketers the ability to ‘buy’ customers on a pay per click basis: you paid and Google connected you to those you wanted to attract. Targeted marketing took over big time, and left the dinosaurs who failed to embrace seo and paid-for-search behind. Of course Facebook has thrown another spanner in the works since then. All you need to do is target your core audience and they’ll spread the word for you unpaid: attract 5 thousand and they’ll influence thousands more and so on.

According to Dormandy, advertising and marketing today is all about maths, statistics and web analytics. Unfortunately the one’s responsible for making the big decisions aren’t always the ones who are qualified to deal with this. A good majority of these senior marketing managers left university with English, History and French degrees. Maths wasn’t, and never will be, their strong point.

So where does that leave us now? Well Dormandy believes things will eventually turn around and all businesses will finally embrace technology, but in the meantime we’re stuck in that old familiar rut. Businesses may now employ social media managers who can see the bigger picture and spot what their company is doing wrong. Unfortunately, they’re not yet running the business: all they can do is point out the shortcomings and hope that the 40-somethings do something about it. It’s a slim hope, but I suppose it’s better than nothing.

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