I originally posted this when I was doing a lot of consulting work with smaller marketers who had less digital experience. I think it holds true for the big fish as well.
That said, it’s one of the only blog posts that I think resonates or has any value anymore, considering it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged.
Frankly, keeping old blog posts up forever just to prove you’ve been pontificating for awhile is not–in my opinion–something for which you should be honored.
That’s why the Internet isn’t made of paper. It is mutable.
Delete is bodhisattva.
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I consider myself to be very spiritual, yet I’ve never brought my inner life to my work, as what I do for a living is consult with businesses that want to improve their relationships with their customers, and sell more goods and services.
Yet it occurred to me that by applying Gautama Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path when you are developing your go-to-market plan for your digital presence, you just might find your own little nirvana. Allow me to illustrate.
First, for those who might not be familiar with Buddhism, here’s a quick primer.
The Gautama Buddha is considered to be the key figure in Buddhism. He founded it. He was the Supreme Buddha. And since he was first, he should have that title. I’d take it. In any event, once he became an ascetic, and became enlightened, he divulged his teachings to his monks.
The basic jist was that there are Four Noble Truths which explain that life is suffering; what the nature of suffering is; what the origin of suffering is; and how to get rid of it. Getting rid of suffering means following the Noble Eightfold Path or more simply: The Way. The eight steps in this path to enlightenment–and consequently an end to suffering–in order, are: right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.
Enough of the spiritual coaching. If you are interested in exploring Buddhism further, I recommend A Buddhist Bible
The Digital Marketing Way
Let me take each of the Eightfold Path steps, and provide context around how it applies to marketers who are interested in executing effective digital marketing communications (and this includes that now nearly gag-inducing phrase, “social media”).
1. Right View. Translation: this ain’t television or radio, and it ain’t the 1950’s. Audiences have never been more splintered, and marketers either have to spend a lot more money getting their ads onto every conceivable digital channel that’s got an audience–which is financially impossible, even for Microsoft–or, they have to get a lot more savvy about where they are placing their marketing messages. They might even want to think about different ways to deliver messaging.
2. Right Intention. As audiences are showing their overwhelming preferences against interruptive experiences, and for experiences where they can control the types of advertising they see, that means one thing to marketers: don’t misrepresent yourself. You’ll be clobbered for it.
3. Right Speech. This ties directly into number two. As you do begin to communicate with prospective customers in the digital space, you have to craft your messaging differently. Just slapping up a banner ad doesn’t work. In fact, it’s recently been shown that almost 50% of U.S. Internet users ignore banner advertising (source). Find ways (using social media is one) to converse with your prospects, and not sell to them. It seems un-intuitive, but it works.
4. Right Action. The Internet has taken marketing to new levels because of its ability to enable people to take action while they are consuming your message or content. Make sure you provide the ability for a prospect to become a customer in a way that’s easy, intuitive and fun.
5. Right Livelihood. Your business does one thing well that makes it money. Make sure that you figure out how to do that thing well online. Meaning, if you sell linen laundry services to restaurants and hotels, maybe putting up a Facebook page isn’t all that conducive to growing your business.
6. Right Effort. Similar to Right Livelihood, you need to focus your efforts on developing experiences or communication plans online that achieve your business objectives. If your primary business objective is to sell comic books, banner ads are likely not going to be a very smart investment for you. Both because of what I mentioned earlier in this post (nobody reads them), and because the unit prices of comic books are too low to justify expenditures whose goal it is to maximize reach online. It’s burning money.
7. Right Mindfulness. This one is the hardest for people who didn’t grow up with the Internet as a tool. But it’s not impossible. I didn’t have the Internet either growing up. And no, I’m not telling you my age. Suffice to say, if you spend a little time online, signing up for a few newsletters, social media networks, etcetera, you’ll get the hang of it.
As I alluded to, getting the mindfulness down with regard to digital marketing is about letting go of your preconceptions or habits, and allowing yourself to really see what unique and innovative ways there are to market your business online. It is possible to gain an innate understanding of the marketplace and opportunities here. You just have to remain open to it.
A good suggestion for doing this is: if you have an employee who is young, and considers themselves savvy about the Internet, ask them for ideas about how you might market yourself online. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised to find out they have some amazing insights that can directly benefit your business.
8. Right Concentration. Another challenging step on the path of digital marketing, but one worth taking. A lot of the efforts you make at first are not going to give you immediate growth. You have to earn some credibility. And to do that, you need to concentrate on developing your messaging over time.
Find out where your prospects hang out. Listen to what they’re saying about you, or your competitors. Watch what your competitors are doing. It’s a lot of work, but it will help bring some perspective to your specific category and business objective online.
I hope these insights help your digital marketing efforts, and bring success to you and your business.