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Is Digital Marketing Only About Media Buying?

The short answer is: No! But short answers are sometimes not very fun. So here is the background to this blog post.

I have a cousin whom I consider a brother and as close of a friend as one can be. We live in different countries but every opportunity I get to meet up with him, I take it. We hang out, play some chilled out music in the background and we start talking. We talk about everything but we always end up going Into running your own business vs working as an employee, education vs experience, investments, spirituality.. sometimes relationships. One of those days I flew to his city for a market visit and met up with him and talked about digital marketing and how a fiend of his is making a ton of money on Facebook and how many people are breaking through using Facebook. I explained to him that it is more than Facebook ads. He did not seem convinced but did not argue with me so I thought “ok maybe he got it”. Fast forward to about two years and we ended up meeting up again and at one point I told him “oh yeah you better congratulate me, cousin, I got my masters in Digital marketing”.

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He looked extremely perplexed. And I kind of knew why based on our previous conversations and passed discussions about digital marketing, but I wasn’t 100% sure. So he asked “you mean you got your MBA”. I said “œno no a masters in digital marketing” (and then I went for the kill) “and it cost me x dollars”

 

He shook his head and said “I thought you were smart but clearly you are an idiot. You paid that much just to learn how to do Facebook ads. A lot of it is on YouTube.. and guess what! It is for free”

 

It then became my turn to be perplexed! It hit me that people have no idea what digital marketing means. And you would think that this exchange is a one-off, but no, not at all. A huge number of people I talk to always link the words “digital marketing” with Facebook ads or facebook pages.

 

And in so many ways I don’t blame them anymore. Because I realized that this is the same confusion the lots of people have when you say Person X is in marketing. A lot of them equate person X  with ads and floor displays.

 

So it got me thinking why do people think that way about digital marketing?

 

There are different reasons why one would confuse marketing (digital marketing or traditional marketing) with advertisement and media buying. I grouped them into three categories:

 

  1. The person you are talking to is not connected to the business/entrepreneurial world in any way shape or form, and therefore they are just putting the pieces together as best as they can based on the limited knowledge they have
  2. You are in the biz world but did not start a brand or a product from scratch. So you might be a sales person in an already established brand, with established clients, customer and consumers, and all what you see is the marketing team talking about is ATL campaigns
  3. Last one, and it is similar to the second point but with a regional twist. Most marketing positions in the region do not influence the development of much. The products are researched, developed, and launched targeting the US market. Then each region just localizes and manages agency and production budgets. So the marketing team’s focus becomes more on advertisement and communication and less on the other aspects of the 4 Ps of marketing

 

As a result of my discussion with my cousin and the realization that lots of people don’t know what digital marketing is (and how wide the scope of digital marketing is), I figured I need to find a simple way to explain all this.

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If you are reading this, you are probably one of those people who fit in the second category mentioned above. I am going to try and show you that there is more to digital marketing than ads.

 

I like to use Amazon sellers and businesses as an example because it is easy to see. You are a business owner or someone who is in charge of launching something new. You did your research on a potential product you can launch there and you identified the “outdoor water bottles” category as one with potential. You went through countless reviews to understand the pains, needs and wants of your future customers. Your keyword research yielded a lot of useful information: the customer journey and preliminary funnel structure, keyword PPCs, and key words that are easy to win with and the ones that will require additional efforts.

 

From the reviews and the results of keywords research, you are able to get a better understanding of the competition, who they are targeting and how they are targeting them.

 

As you keep digging into your competition, you get a better understanding of the different price points, different USPs and where you should position your brand and products in relation to the competition.

 

You start going over the social media pages of your competition and you start getting a sense of the language, the tone, and the overall story behind the brand. You also see how different customers interact with the brand, and based on those findings you identify 3 different categories of people who engage with the brands.

 

share these as common traits: they enjoy the outdoors, tend to be above 30, and very concerned with fitness. You validate this with more research into the social media pages of the competition (how are they communicating and the characteristics of those who engage with the competing brands).

 

I think you can see now how things are coming along and how you are laying the foundations of your 4Ps. In essence you are a marketer leveraging the different available digital platforms, technologies and data to get the job done. And then the icing on the cake, which is being able to amplify very tailored and targeted messages to your audiences at a fraction of the cost.

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So if you are a digital marketer and you end up arguing with my cousin, have him read this article. And if you are not a digital marketer, then now you know the true scope of digital marketing, and so, if you come across a “digital marketing guru” who only talks FB ads, you know to watch out before doing anything with them

I would love to hear your thoughts on this, so please don’t be shy and leave a comment or a question 🙂

Haithem Zaidan
Founder of Digitopia.Marketing – Your Digital Marketing Chaperon

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