Ah how we remember 1988 with great fondness. Ray Houghton scored against England in Stuttgart, with only Joxer sticking the head in Jack to sour the occasion. Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North and Vice Admiral John Poindexter were indicted for their roles in the Iran–Contra affair. The intellectual heavyweight pairing of George HW Bush and Dan Quayle defeated Michael Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen in the race for the Whitehouse. Lester Piggot was stripped of his OBE, as was Ben Johnson of his 100m gold at the Seoul Olympics. And the class of 2009’s university graduates were born.
This year’s graduates do not know a world without the ready availability of connected, digital technology. They have used the web since early childhood, and use it to communicate socially, personally and professionally. All use email, and many have Twitter, Hotmail, Flickr, MySpace and other accounts. They chat online frequently, and are familiar with Google, Skype, MSN, Wikipedia and other online phenomena.
They use the information from these connections to decide which brands to believe in, what products to buy, what friends to make, what countries to visit, what jobs to apply for and pretty much everything else. The fundamentally understand the huge decision making power the internet wields.
Intuitively therefore they bring this wealth of information about the online world to their new workplaces. And for those involved in marketing they will be reconnecting businesses with where their target markets actually are. The 30 second TV ad, the newspaper ad, the PR campaign, the local sponsorship are all being challenged aggressively due to the predominance of the web as a major advertising and communications channel.
Rewind to 1999. Ten years ago marketing executives were reviewing recall rates after communications campaigns. They were agreeing media plans based on TV, radio, outdoor, magazine and newspaper. Sponsorship opportunities were being explored with like minded organisations. They were working extensively with agencies to get the message and medium just right.
Fast forward to 2014. In five years time these hungry graduates will be in marketing positions in organisations throughout Ireland and beyond. They won’t just be placing ads in newspapers and TV, organising sponsorships and maximising PR opportunities. They will be managing online banner ad campaigns, they will be knee deep in Google Analytics measuring return on investment for their search engine marketing, they will be organising the content on their websites, and linkages to their websites, to ensure the maximum exposure on natural search engine listings.
The old world has gone, and with it the excuse that “ah that’s a technical challenge”. No longer can we hide behind the technology, pretending that understanding a keywords campaign is too technical, or that banner advertising metrics are for the IT or web teams to decipher. Web marketing, with all of the new phrases, metrics, measurements and challenges is now part of mainstream marketing, and everyone involved in communications is going to need to know it.
The policy of “outsource and hope” for web marketing needs to be replaced with a policy of “understand the medium and outsource wisely”. No one knows your business like you do. And if you outsource lazily, or expect your web or online marketing agency to wave a magic wand to get your online communications fixed you will be very disappointed. You need to commit to learning the metrics and the opportunities of the new world. Only when that is done, can you get the most from your outsource partners.
Growing up, we got used to our parents asking us to work the remote control and set the video. There was no big issue if we weren’t around to do it for them, they just missed something on TV. Fast forward again to 2014. If you’re not willing to learn the online medium, with all the phraseology, metrics and technology it brings the consequences for you will be much greater than missing a program. The class of 2009 wants your job!