Trying to find the secret to online marketing is a lot like finding Narnia through the wardrobe. The comparison between the two might seem a little strange; I mean what does a fairy tale land filled with fauns, speaking lions and witches have to do with the bleak (and at times equally dangerous) land of online marketing? Admittedly, not much but when I was re-reading the series earlier this year (for the first time in probably a decade) the wardrobe became less of a mystical teleportation device and more of a way for young Lucy Pevensie to examine not only the various ways in which her elder brothers and her sister were dealing with the outbreak of the Second World War but also rationalizing all of the upheaval for herself. Lucy’s journey inward mirrors the journey that a select few successful online marketers understand; that understanding that the deep knowledge of one’s identity results in viral online marketing campaigns and not the technology bells-and-whistles that follow it. So, before we can start talking about what you need to do to make your online marketing successful we’re going to need you to delve inwards, move aside those dusty old jackets and enter the wardrobe. As you move past the assortment of old clothes you start to remember this old word from when you first opened your business, “culture.” You trip over a moldy coat hanger sending dust mites everywhere. You might grumble about the injustice of walking through this damned piece of furniture that was so much bigger when you were a kid. You might be disappointed about the direction of your company. It’s been months since one of your employees had an original idea. Your business is getting as moldy as the hangar that tripped you and it’s time for a change. A cold breeze disturbs a few of the coats, gently rocking them from side to side. You take a deep breath of fresh air, which lifts your spirits enough to press on. What happened to the enthusiastic employees that you hired when you started? You’ve spent thousands of dollars upgrading your technology and services but your customers (and employees) are slowly being lured away by the competition. The jackets get closer and closer together forming an impenetrable wall of cotton and wool. It’s impossible to press on. How do online marketing companies succeed in an environment that seems as friendly as a grumpy Parisian? This is the part of the story where the narrator explains ham-fistedly that our main character is upset about the direction of their company and makes some vague statement that the only thing the character needs is to inject their company with some culture. Luckily, our main character has the ears of an audience member and the brains of a successful businessperson. You whisper culture. The coats spring out of the way revealing a single, solitary lamppost that illuminates a small grove of trees in an even greater forest. Alright, so after a long and somewhat convoluted way we have discussed the importance of culture. But, what does it have to do with improving your online advertising? Many industry professionals will argue that people are most important, or a good process or the best technology (the list is virtually endless). But, none of those offer the best way to keep your company viable over the long term. Technology changes, people leave and being to dedicated to process can limit the ability of your employees to think outside the box. If you look at any of the successful companies in the world today they stress culture to the point where you wonder whether or not they think about anything else. That term defines them and, like any individual, if you know who you are and what you stand for it can contribute to a certain charisma. If people like you then they are more likely to read or look at your advertisements. They trust you and that’s the biggest step in the relationship between any marketing professional and their customers. So, if you’re suffering from a bout of poor online marketing campaigns be sure to thoroughly examine your company’s culture. It could pay dividends for you in the future.
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