Internet Marketing – A Maze In A Haze?

Internet marketing, website marketing, call it what you will, can be a bit like a maze. You charge off down one route….dead end. Someone sends you off down another route with a big grin on their face….another dead end. Another route looks promising….until it fizzles out and you reach another dead end. You can not cheat by looking over the hedge, it’s about 20 feet high! A big ladder so you can get a fantastic view? No, they have all been hidden. None left on the planet! Except those in the vaults of the internet gurus, you suspect.

So, you keep going around this maze, and at every turn there is advertising, about the maze itself, telling you about which way to go. Plans of the maze that, should you follow, may get you half way around, just to find you will need to get another plan to have the rest of the way. So what do you do? Carry on about this maze unaided? Or buy another strategy? You get another plan of the maze, and lo and behold, you wind up in a location somewhere near the exit into actual open daylight (you believe ), but how can you get the correct last few turns? Anyway, perhaps you’re not near the exit after all? You might be on the far side of the maze from the exit. Sound familiar?

If you have been researching the net from a business standpoint for any length of time, you’ve probably discovered that much of this advertising, the marketing, is all about…. internet marketing. This is partially why it can look like a maze. If you’re not sure what’s going to work to advertise your site, or the goods in it, how can you know which information to listen too, which»provides» to take up?

Why is Internet Marketing Such a Maze?
Promotion is a topic I’ve been interested in for several years, long before I was partner in an advertising related business in the early 90’s. Then, marketing was a rather stable world. The most recent»change» of any significance was TV, and TV advertising had evolved steadily over several decades. It was glossy, glamorous, and….very pricey. That was great for the large advertising agencies, and they chased the large advertisers with enormous budgets for TV advertising. They had their creative departments to think of memorable TV ads, often designed to be memorable rather than to market, and their media buyers to purchase time on the commercial TV channels.

The glamour was in TV, but every organization and every agency would operate on a marketing mix: radio advertisements, sales promotions, glossy magazine advertising, newspaper advertising, trade ads, direct mail….all played their role. These all had something in common, though: they’d been in existence for quite a long time. Marketing was a stable business, not in economic terms, but at the»tricks of the trade». There were a few minor variations here and there, but essentially, the advertising industry had its own accepted, well recorded, ways of doing things. Skill levels varied naturally, and that is where competition came in between the agencies and between firms in the same industries. The point is, however, it was all essentially stable. Good or bad, it was steady.

Then along came the World Wide Web. Being involved in advertising in the mid 90’s, it was evident to me that the potential has been absolutely enormous. Mind boggling. It was hard to demonstrate, however, as rates were painfully slow. You’d attempt to show someone over a cup of tea or coffee, and you would finish the beverage while the next page was loading. Consider coming back in 5 decades. They did. With a vengeance.

The net itself came on in leaps and bounds then. Technically it developed quickly. Companies began to realise that they»had» to have an online presence. Why? Well, often because their competitor did, or because they believed they ought to before their rival did. They were diving , pretty much blind; they didn’t know what they were becoming. The stock markets cottoned on that something big was in the offing, so .com stocks were being touted to ever greater levels. Shares of firms with no substance ordinarily.

I used to trade shares on a daily basis in these days, and I never touched one internet related business. I cringed every time I saw the financial amounts of a recorded .com. Prices of stocks were frequently from the stratosphere while turnover was meagre and gains non existent, then and to the future. The dealers at the London Stock Exchange and Wall Street didn’t know. The net was new, there was no history to go on. They simply didn’t understand. They were excited, and were others also. The purchasing was frantic. The crash inevitable.

Companies throughout the world were realising, however, they must have an internet presence. Firms had advertising departments and/or advertising agencies. So they also had to go together with the the tidal wave of online anticipation. What did they do? They followed the accepted patterns for promotion in these days. TV advertising. Radio advertising. Big newspaper ads.

The gigantic costs of these methods bore no connection then to the possibility of extra income, for earnings. They were throwing money down the drain usually. Why? They simply did not know!
The net has been, and is, a revolution in communications. However, the advertising industry hadn’t had a revolution, it had been too bogged down at the remainder of the marketing mix to realise what was actually going on here. The printing press was a revolution in communications, but it took several years to spread its influence. Radio was a revolution in communications; similarly. TV? Likewise.

The world wide web has been more like an explosion, and following an explosion it takes some time for the dust to settle. That’s one reason for the maze of online marketing. The dust is still settling. You can not see through the dust yet. More of a haze than a maze I suppose! No, a maze in a haze!

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