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Online is Just a Delivery Method

“The Internet has changed everything.” Uh, huh. “It’s a new paradigm for advertising, branding, sales, public relations, blah, blah, blah.” We think not. Having been intimately involved in the marketing/communications game for a LONG time, I believe that, unfortunately, “nothing is new under the sun.” At least not yet. No communicator has yet to tap the superb potential of the online/connected/social world.

Just about everything online now is simply a different delivery method. A customer-service-dedicated Twitter employee who responds to customer complaints is still just a customer-service employee. Sure, broadcast customer-service Tweets reach more folks than to just the individual complaining or asking the question. Nonetheless, it’s still a simple one-to-many communications channel.

Live chat is still just one-on-one. A Facebook page is still just a simple “push” technology. Embedded video is still just… a video; although we now have many more ways of viewing that video. Admittedly, it’s all happening a lot faster now – often instantaneously.

But online shopping sites still use the analogy of the “shopping cart.” How old-school is that? Showrooming is a lot easier with smartphones and QR or barcode scanners, but that’s just a quicker (and more environmentally friendly) method than driving from one store to the next to comparison shop.

There IS a need (and opportunity) for innovative companies and organizations to take advantage of the myriad of online delivery methods. Online WILL someday step up to a new paradigm. Yet when those businesses finally do so, their campaigns will still need to be grounded in the realities of how people see, hear, feel, read, and interact with information.

The “next step” in online/virtual/interactive/relationship/social marketing is still a long step away. I believe that if it comes from anywhere in the existing communications realm, it will come from an “art” standpoint; an artist’s perspective, rather than from a marketer’s so-called vision.