It’s one of the biggest furphies going around. And it’s happening to a business near you.
That furphy is the mistaken belief that traditional industry skills and experience have little relevance to the online world.
In fact, a massive number of smaller businesses are actively avoiding embracing the web because they feel that their skills can’t be translated into this scary new(ish) medium. Such avoidance can even turn into hostility for something they feel so helpless about.
If that sounds like you or someone you know, I have great news.
The song remains the same
Because even the most tech-savvy guru on the planet doesn’t have an iota of the industry experience and skill that you bring to the table – digital or otherwise.
They may well know how to unravel the Google algorithm or cut the most complex code you’ve ever seen, but industry experts they are not.
The point is that the digital world is not so radical that it is reinventing consumer behaviour: in fact, quite the opposite.
The digital world works hard to find analogies to concepts that ordinary people understand. That’s why email is called email (even though they’ll never appear in your letterbox), shopping carts are called shopping carts (without a dodgy wheel in sight) and why many websites have ‘tab’ style menus (despite the filing capabilities of the new media requiring no such construct).
So what’s that got to do with your industry expertise? As it turns out, plenty.
People don’t change; processes do
Because while technology may streamline or change the way people do things, their fundamental needs are the same.
So when people buy online, they are simply using a different method to purchase something that may be as mundane as a shovel. Or when they watch a family video on YouTube, they are simply doing something that in the past was relatively complex and time consuming.
But, in all cases, the fundamental need and the marketing techniques that put them in a position to be able to purchase your product are essentially the same.
Or to call up an old marketing acronym, all of the Attention, Interest, Desire and Action that ever existed are still there; it’s just the methods of achieving the same outcome that are different.
In fact, I would contend that most of the techniques you use to get your product/service to market can – in the right hands – be replicated in the online world.
That is, if you sell cars in the flesh, you can sell them online. If you promote your plumbing service in traditional media, you can do that in the online world. If you play music, you can play it (arguably better) in the online world.
Most old techniques can be digitised
So to reject your skills as being old-fashioned or outdated in the increasingly digital world in which we live is really throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
We still need to do our four marketing Ps of product, people, price and promotion. It’s just that the fifth P that governs them all – process – has undergone significant change.
By the same token, going to uni for a computer science degree is going to appeal to a select few.
Partnership is the key
The answer to translating your industry wisdom into something that can work online is simply to find the right partner with whom to dance: Someone who is able to understand the objectives of your business and identify the right strategies and techniques to digitise and, ideally, monetise them.
Don’t forget too that the online world itself can provide many of the answers you seek. If not by way of forums, whitepapers and the like but by tapping into the array of expert groups that are quite willing to answer your questions – no matter how obscure they may seem.
Together, this combination of industry and eBusiness knowledge will provide your business with a brilliant platform from which to develop your online strategy.
It’s the recipe for not only your online success, but for the overall health of your business.
In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.