Being Digital

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How does a Marketing Professional (or any media professional) bridge the gap between the traditional marketing channels to where we’re at now?

There is an opportunity now for marketing and media professionals to cross the digital divide. To better understand the many changes that have come into our industry because of the Internet, mobile and now, touch. For many they’re being forced to do so while others continue to "stay the course." That being said, I also see many professional in the Digital Marketing space not truly embracing the power and opportunity that is now in front of our faces. They fall back on trying to use traditional tactics in the digital world (with varying degrees of success). On a personal note, I cant remember how the transition from a more traditional marketer to a digital marketer took place. I can say that when I first connected to others through both BBS systems and then the first Web browser, it was an epiphany that this new-found interconnectedness would change everything. And, it has.

Here are 6 ways to become more digital: 

  1. Learn it. Education used to be expensive. It isn’t for Digital Marketing. Every day thousands of people are sharing what they think about this space. If you don’t know where to begin, try any one of the top Marketing Blogs over at the Advertising Age Power 150 list. You can also check out the type of people I follow on Twitter. There are many smart Podcasts that regularly attack the topic of Digital Marketing (The Beancast, Marketing Over Coffee,Jaffe Juice and For Immediate Release immediately come to mind) and they’re all free. Just head over to iTunes, go to the Podcast section and look for the marketing Podcasts (audio and video). 
  2. Read more. It’s not just about reading Blogs and following people on Twitter. Get in the habit of reading… often… all of the time (more on that here: The Most Important Thing You Can Do…).There are lots of brilliant business books by people like Don Tapscott, Seth Godin, Clay Shirky, Joseph Jaffe, Avinash Kaushik, Bryan Eisenberg, David Weinberger, and many others that can get you started. It’s amazing to think that for well under two hundred dollars you can buy the most cutting-edge thinking. Most of these books offer the kind of content that they don’t teach in university.
  3. Create more. One of the things that makes Digital Marketing so fascinating is the ability for anybody and everybody to create content as well (in text, audio, images and video). It’s critical that you spend some of your time formulating your thoughts and publishing them online. It’s not about creating an online resume or becoming famous. It’s about critical thinking and gaining a better understanding of what it means to make your thoughts shareable and findable. The act of creating in these channels will give you a better understanding of how these channels connect.
  4. Love it. Passion is an over-used term. But, it also happens to be the right term. You have to love this stuff. I can’t imagine doing anything else. I get hundred of email newsletters, Google Alerts, Blog posting and tweets about all things Digital Marketing and New Media. When do I find the time to consume all of it? I don’t. But I try to get the highlights and dig in deeper when I can. Right now, there was a choice in front of me: chill out and watch some TV or chill out and play with some thoughts about the Digital Marketing space. It’s a no-brainer for me. I love what I do so much that this is my leisure (and pleasure). I get more pleasure writing these Blog posts than the things that the majority of people do to forget about the day they just had.
  5. Live it. I am reminded of something that Avinash Kaushik (the analytics evangelist at Google and author of Web Analytics – An Hour A Day and Web Analytics 2.0) said at last year’s Canadian Marketing Association National Convention: "The Web has been around forever and yet it is not in the blood of the executives who staff the top echelons of companies. Make no mistake, they are smart, they are successful and they want to do better. But the Web is such a paradigm shift that if it is not in your blood it is very difficult to imagine its power and how to use it for good. How do you demand innovation and creativity and radical rethink if you can’t imagine it?" You have to live it. It has to be in your blood.
  6. Practice it. Try things. Think about a Digital Marketing strategy… how does it connect to the other pieces of your branding and marketing strategy? What can you do today to make your consumer’s experience better through these connected channels? As you dig deeper into Digital Marketing, you’ll find many people talking up a good game. While what they say may be impressive, try to find the people who have their hands dirty. The ones who are neck deep in these channels and platforms are the true visionaries and people worth being connected to.

What’s missing?


  1. Thanks for sharing Mitch. The only thing I would add – Be patient with it!
    It takes time to learn, read, and create. Companies and marketers that invest their time will reap the rewards as digital continues to dominate.

  2. A few years ago, after being a digital marketer for most of my career, I crossed the bridge the other way to be a traditional marketer. What I’ve learned – it’s not about being digital or being traditional, it’s about being a marketer and embracing all the opportunities we have at our disposal today. The longer we label ourselves digital or traditional, the longer the divide will exist.

  3. Hey Mitch,
    First, i’ll insert my standard comment … Another fantastic post.
    I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts, especially the getting your hands dirty part. I don’t think this new media can be easily understood without experience. The very nature of message delivery and distribution is completely different from the traditional media model.
    I’ve found many of my existing radio clients have a hard time understanding a few of the points you made here and in your book. 1. We are media. 2. We can produce any type of media we want. 3. Having a facebook page isn’t the same as having a community. 4. Every company can now interact directly with customers. There is no middle man anymore.
    As for some missing elements I’d like to add two things.
    First, is the realization that I’m not alone I may be alone in my company and they may not ‘get’ me, but in the community of marketing professionals trying to bridge the gap, I have friends. Blogs like yours are great places to connect with other like minded people.
    Second, is to ask for help and/or get a mentor. I’ve found that there are some really smart people out there who are wise. They may not know about social media, but they understand the importance of adding value to relationships and communities. These people may or may not know the social media tools, but they understand people.
    Thanks again for this post, it comes at a good time for me.
    By the way I know that you said it’s not about an online resume or getting famous, but I did notice there’s a job positioning for Twist on Linkedin. Are resumes still the norm?

  4. Bang on Mitch. It’s amazing what you can accomplish by cutting out television and reading business books and blogs instead of fiction. The best ones are usually more interesting and always more inspiring.

  5. As usual excellent article. I would add to it one last item: Execute it. Just read Poke the Box by Seth and one thing he makes very clear at the final chapter is that no matter how smart you think you are or how many cool ideas you can come up with every single day, it is not worth it if you don’t execute.

  6. As someone with a more traditional marketing background, learning the digital end of marketing has taken me a while. And I’m still learning. Getting involved with blogging and Twitter especially, has been a journey that I’ve enjoyed. Now it’s a matter of convincing the hiring managers that the old school experience I have translates to this newer world of digital. Mitch, great job here at 6POS teaching and informing us about all of these digital tools.

  7. Well said.
    The only thing I would add is to try reverse mentoring. The younger generation does have this stuff in their blood and can make sense of the chaos. At the same time they can learn a lot from the higher lever employee about what has worked in the past.

  8. Love your point about digital marketing being your leisure activity. Totally feel the same way. Reading, writing, listening – often, that is my escape. I get excited reading a new post about a strategy that I want to put into effect the next day. It’s not a sacrifice. It’s a passion.
    Thanks for educating us on a daily basis, Mitch.

  9. Top notch advice Mitch. Will definitely have to check out those podcasts. Glad you mentioned books, I think they often get overlooked because people see digital as very transitory compared to the static nature of a book.

  10. Anita Chau- I couldn’t agree more with your comment. I’m just the same – stepping across the marketing divide from digital to traditional and irrespective of the tactics, the principles are just the same. I think we have an advantage in our digital-to-traditional traverse though – to non-digital types the whole ‘digital’ arena is still perhaps a little mystified…. which is where Mitch’s first two peices of advice really ring true – ‘Learn it’ and ‘Read more’.

  11. I think becoming more digital takes patience and time before it can become second nature for some. A great point of entry that I suggest to anyone struggling with digital is to engage in communities based around their own interests. Understanding digital platforms wont seem as difficult if most of the terms within that space are familiar. My family got past their hesitation with digital once they found spaces online to discuss (one of their all time favourite topics) sports and interact with other fans.
    Practicing digital habits and creating content online is crucial in closing the loop for all marketers. Most of the tools to produce content are free or easy to learn and are worth experimenting with – not only for your own understanding but to appreciate the way other brands have chosen to behave digitally. Great post Mitch.

  12. Great post, Mitch! I am learning much about social media/marketing. I try new things, read new books, have my own blog, actually put up a video on YouTube recently, and have tried to convince businesses to share in this experience. One thing I enjoy doing and get much out of are the Social Media Breakfasts I attend in Ottawa. The last one was about Gamification and the speaker was David Nicholson.

  13. Nice advice, and I think the only thing that’s missing is having a constant curiosity. The thing about “being digital” is that technology has dramatically accelerated the rate of change and innovation. The pace at which new things are introduced has increased. You can’t be digital without being creative and practicing it (your points 3 and 6), but to really deal with “being digital” during your working life (and not just his year) you have to be flexible, adaptive, and CURIOUS. You have to want to KNOW what’s next, what might happen, what could be, why this makes sense or doesn’t, and how things happen.

  14. Thanks for that addition, Don. I often Blog about curiosity as being a key success factor (especially when it comes to developing content and connecting with others). It’s the old “nose for news” that the better journalists possess.

  15. Mitch,
    Great read!
    This is my first comment on your site however I have read more than a few posts. In late 2009 I challenged our small agency to try to get up to speed with all the changes happening in the digital space(including social media). It has been a hell of a learning experience. We hired many social media consultants and digital gurus. Half were a joke while the other half were well worth the investment. The bad ones even taught us things. Specifically how not to behave in this space. We currently use a dozen or so of the hundreds of social media tools. Bottom line: It’s working! We are invited to more RFP’s. We have landed more work, both retainer and project. The funny thing is that all the work is not necessarily digital or social. All clients like the fact that we are passionate about our work and we go out of our way to tell them of the latest trend, offering or tool that may help them increase sales. I am not sure how marketers will survive if they have the business as usual mindset.

  16. This is exceptional….the clarity and simplicity is powerful. Thanks.
    I’ve recently started lsitening to your podcasts and find them exceptioanl as well. Insightful to say the least.

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