"Why do you think so many professionals just don't believe in digital marketing?"
The question came from a bright young woman yesterday who will graduate next month with a bachelor's degree in business and marketing. She was one of my students in the 300-level marketing class where I was a guest lecturer at Colorado Christian University in Denver.
"My parents are both accountants," she continued. "And they just won't do any online marketing, even though I talk to them about it all the time. How can I convince them?"
Part of me wanted to say something like, "Tell me when you get that figured out, I'd love to know!"
But, of course, I didn't. She was looking to me for guidance, something real that would help her understand the reticence we see every day among professionals about using this incredible power we all know as the internet.
So, I said, "This could take awhile," as I settled into a comfortable chair.
I think there are three primary reasons that professionals are reluctant to, as my student said, "believe" in the internet.
- It's Outside of Their Comfort Zone
Most professionals are highly intelligent people who always did well in school and get paid to give advice. The internet, and specifically digital marketing, remains mostly a mystery to them. They don't really understand it, and that's a feeling they're not used to. Also, they are much more comfortable answering questions than asking them. Trusting someone else's expertise is just not part of their self-image. Digital marketing takes them out of their comfort zone, and they really do not like it out there!
- Their Digital Marketing Efforts Have Failed
By 2017, most professionals have made some effort to market online -- whether it was to create a WordPress blog, a Weebly website or a Facebook page. Whatever it is they tried, it didn't work very well. They dipped a toe into the digital marketing waters and were not happy with the temperature! While I will be the first to agree that really bad digital marketing does not work, it's hard for the professional to recognize that their failed efforts were ... really bad!
- Their Clients Are Not on the Internet
My student's eyes grew wide when I said this, because she is keenly aware that literally almost everyone is on the internet. But the professional will tell you right to your face that his or her clients are NOT on the internet. To a degree, they are right. But, it's a bit of a circular reference. If you do not market yourself on the internet, you will not find new clients there. You will, instead, find them the "old fashioned" way -- through workshops, referrals, personal networking and word of mouth. If those are the only ways you market your services, those are the only places you will find new clients. However, what the professional fails to see is that his clients ARE on the internet, like most of the rest of the planet. They are buying products and services online every day, they are sharing on social media and connecting with other service providers ... including other professionals ... every day. Just not with him.
"Yep," my student said. "That's my parents! So -- what can I say to them? How do I convince them?"
Rule #1 of Marketing to Professionals: Respect
The first thing my bright young student needs to remember is that her parents are NOT dumb! They are very smart people who have built very successful careers without the assistance of the internet, by the way, thank you very much! So, it's important to respect that.
Rule #2 of Marketing to Professionals: Understand the Why
Why are you even having this discussion ... whether it's with your parents or a prospective client? Most likely it's because the professional is bright enough to recognize this internet stuff is something, even if they don't know quite what. They want to know, even if they won't admit it, how everyone else seems to be making the internet work for their business. So, respect that, too. Even if they seem to not believe, they certainly are interested.
"So," I advised, "approach your parents with respect and understanding. Share stories of other, similar professionals who are having success with digital marketing. Let them ask questions. Give honest answers. And if you can get them to commit to the kind of digital marketing that actually will work, hold yourself accountable for results. Be sure you have defined goals, established tracking, and can report results."
Even professionals will be impressed at the ease with which digital marketing brings them new business, of exactly the type they most enjoy.
It's really hard to argue with success.