Divide and Balance: Bits and Atoms

Bits and AtomsThe buzz of Digital Marketing has created a turmoil around me. The worst part being the term given to people who are slow in accepting the paradigm shift in Businesses. I am talking about “Traditional Marketing” against “Digital Marketing”.

The moment one acknowledges the worth of social media, it is very rare that no one contradicts. I can see new groups forming out of marketers and cold war between them. “Digital Marketers” believe they are smarter than “Traditional Marketers” and the latter group which is already not accepting the word “Traditional” attached against their names believe, let “Digital Marketers” believe their illusions are true.

(Lack and excess) Awareness and information is an issue.

This is a statement issued only after a small research done by me (with no formal methodologies, believe at your own risk!) where people belonging to the “Traditional Marketers” group didn’t know what Digital Marketing means! The respondents were those who are active in shouting against Digital Marketing. Isn’t that funny? I put it as lack of information and biased opinions for they don’t want to harm their own egos by praising others in the same domain.

On the other hand, active “Digital Marketers” also confirmed their baseless opinions. They perceive of having some extra information and awareness which “traditional marketers” do not possess, and hence are their names. Digital marketers have x bits of extra knowledge which they club with the universally available and call themselves as smarter marketers, at times without denying the importance of Kotler.

Some “Smart Asses”, who always want to remain in the grey area said their should be a balance between the two.

With such difference in opinions, there goes a lot more into it when it comes on an interview table where the probability of having a traditional marketer on the other side of the table are very high. Well, thats not it, there will be a lot of chaos in the domain until traditional marketers accept the changes happening around them and until digital marketers stop calling others as “traditional” which directly hits the egos, turning their acceptance abilities into a switch off mode! Because we need to understand the underlying psychology which says there is a huge difference in opinions.

The other day, during usual fag sessions after my marketing class I got it on my face, “Hey Satyam, what the fuck is this social media and stuff? do you really think thats got to do anything with marketing, at all?? I am sure not!”. Understanding his frustration of lack of awareness behind that question, I accepted his statement. However, sometimes after listening to such questions / statements, I say to myself, “Do you have few minutes for me to explain the answer or do you just want me to agree??”.

You got it right, I place my self in none of the groups and keep hopping, fighting with myslef. This keeps me awake, active and acceptable to changes.

During a conversation with a friend, the discussion started with how to sell coffee over internet! and there was born another set of questions, how to strike a balance between the efforts made towards bits and atoms, wherein humans (consumers) consume atoms!!! It will be a little difficult to consume digital coffee. However, the coffee can still be delivered hot and ready in no time through digital medium but the form in which it might reach you, its preparation and delivery will definitely be different and not usual.

My current set of beliefs suggest me, Why would you need to balance them at all? Is that wise? Wise, at the moment, would be to make everyone aware of the information that is floating. Make marketers understand the fact that there is no equal distribution of information among them and hence marketers perceive themselves as standing on different platforms. Till there are no conversion of thoughts and everyone comes on the same platform and think alike, each step taken forward would be adding to the chaos. Get rid of unequal sharing of knowledge, get rid of the two group names, esp “Traditional”.

P&G has taken a step. I don’t know what the reason is. The advantages of digital, print, TV, Radio are many, as a medium to reach out to customers. The balance depends on who and where your customers are.

Expert’s opinion:

“As a member of Gen Y, it goes without saying that I use the Internet for everything. With every ache and pain I jump on WebMD. I take half my classes at home, on the couch, between watching episodes of The Office on Hulu. And so, when planning my one-week, cross-country spring break road trip, of course I do my research online. With little more than a quick Google search, I found everything from free trip planners to forums with members’ past road trip itineraries. This couldn’t be easier, and I couldn’t ask for more.

But, for some reason, I couldn’t deny my unrelenting desire to get in the car, drive 20 minutes across town, and sit down with a handful of travel books at a real life bookstore. So that’s just what I did.

And, two hours later, my venture was planned. So why couldn’t I do this after hours and various attempts online? It’s simple enough: there was too much to dig through. I was overwhelmed at the shear amount of people willing to offer up

their advice on the “best” thing do to in any given city. There was something therapeutic sitting there in the café flipping through National Geographic pictures of Route 66, picking out exactly what interests me, and not just taking the advice of some RV junkie. And after double checking distances on Google Maps, I was sure my trip would be everything I hope for.

The future is the Internet. Print is dying. We will soon be a purely digital society. This is undoubtedly true, but I think we can all agree that there is a balance to be found between digital and traditional media. Certainly not every company has found that balance, but I know they will. Customers will force them. Sure, I can read the NYT on my iPhone. But, luckily, there will always be a place for those who want to curl up with a good novel, today’s paper, or a United States “On the Road” book and get away.”

Satyam is a Consultant with Infosys Ltd. and editor / founder of marketinomics.com. When he is not talking about Digital Marketing or dreaming of CRM strategies, he can be found on a treadmill. He enjoys travelling, reading and listening to music! Catch up with him on twitter at @xatyam