How the Internet Has Changed Businesses
(Episode 2 of 2 with Mitch Joel)
Welcome back to another episode with Mitch Joel. In the last episode, we discussed Mitch’s entrepreneurial journey and tectonic shifts such as COVID-19. In today’s episode, we will discuss credibility marketing, gatekeepers, and the direct to consumer movement.
Is Advertising Credible?
On this show we have talked a lot about credibility marketing. About 20 years ago, businesses bought as much advertising as they could get their hands on and then used that advertising to tell the world how awesome they were. However, that behavior doesn’t work as well anymore. What businesses say about themselves is not as trusted and businesses are having to find much more credible ways to communicate to their audience, whether with influencer marketing or word of mouth marketing.
However, when I asked Mitch to share his thoughts on credibility marketing, he said he doesn’t believe it is as drastic as this. He believes advertising is still credible; the way advertising has changed has simply made it harder for the uncredible businesses to hide.
“I think that we still live in a world where people spend billions of dollars, whether it’s on Google or Facebook or YouTube, to get a concept into people’s brains, and that does result in transactions happening,” Mitch said. “I don’t prescribe to the idea that paying for someone’s attention is any different than paying an influencer. . . . I think what has happened is there has been fragmentation in advertising.”
Before, in order to talk directly to their customers, business owners had to pay for an ad that only aired on Thursdays at 8 p.m. on TV or the radio. If their target customers weren’t watching TV or listening to the radio at that specific time, they didn’t hear the ad. Advertising used to be much more scarce; however, with the internet, now we can pay for ads on YouTube, Google, Facebook, etc. — essentially anywhere online. We can pay for ads we know our customers will see. The internet has completely changed the way businesses do their advertising.
“I think that the fragmentation has moved advertising from a scarcity model to one of abundance that still caters to a scarcity premium. I also think that there’s a big difference between direct response strategies or storytelling strategies,” Mitch said.
While advertisements have traditionally been direct response strategies, they have now moved to storytelling strategies as well. Mitch believes influencer marketing is advertising; the only difference is who you are paying. “What you call credibility marketing, I would just call advertising,” Mitch said.
He continued, “I don’t think brands that advertise traditionally have lost credibility. I think the brands that aren’t credible and are trying to tell non-credible stories are struggling to do so in a world that’s more transparent.”
In addition to advertising, we can create our own content and communicate with our customers directly. We no longer have to go through advertising agencies; the tectonic shift of the internet has removed many of these gatekeepers.
Tectonic Shift: Removal of Gatekeepers
In the past, we had many more gatekeepers standing in the way between us and our customers. If we wanted to communicate with our customers, we had to pay for a radio ad at a specific time. We had to send a press release to a news station. We had to reach out to journalists.
Now, with the internet, we live in a world where these gatekeepers are removed. We can post our own content on our own websites and platforms. Consumers can go directly to the company, the content creator, the blogger, the podcaster, and have direct access to the information from the source.
“In theory, an idea posted to the internet has the hooks built into it to be viral, for it to go everywhere, for it to spread,” Mitch said. “We’ve seen really bad tweets do that. We’ve seen political leaders do that. We’ve seen comedians do it.”
Mitch started his career in music journalism. In order for him to publish his articles, he had to write physical letters to magazine publishers, which often led to a lot of rejection. In order to speak to an audience, he has to break through the gatekeepers and get his work approved for publishing. Then, when blogging came along, he jumped right in. He suddenly didn’t have these gatekeepers to go through. He could publish anything he wanted without asking for permission first.
With less gatekeepers standing in the way between us and our customers, businesses should focus on joining the direct to consumer movement. We now have this ability to develop direct relationships with our customers to help grow our businesses.
The Direct to Consumer Movement
Mitch’s book, Six Pixels of Separation, focuses on how we can form relationships with people in a digital world where everyone is already connected. It’s about the ability for businesses to have authentic connections between real human beings.
“The idea is that everyone is connected, and you can be connected to everybody who might care about the things you’re talking about,” Mitch said. “We’re [only] six degrees of separation away from anybody. This idea that digitization has made us all intrinsically connected is true.”
Through the internet and platforms such as Instagram and YouTube, we can connect to people from around the world. There are people from small towns becoming famous on Tik Tok because they have the ability to connect with anyone, no matter their geography. This technology has given everyone easy access to different distribution platforms without any gatekeepers.
“[Direct consumer communication] is important because . . . you can tell your stories in a much more personable, dynamic, and interesting way,” Mitch said. With this ability to be connected with anyone, businesses should start focusing on becoming direct to consumer companies. We have the ability to directly connect with our customers.
With a direct line of communication, it suddenly becomes much easier to determine our customers’ wants and needs. We can listen to our customers. We don’t have to guess what they want, we can simply ask.
Mitch gave the example of the Kardashians and Kyle Jenner’s brand, Kylie Cosmetics. “I believe what they did exceptionally well is leveraged brand [and] leveraged storytelling,” Mitch said. “They could listen in a really powerful way. They could see which colors their fans were talking about, and produce that. . . . They weren’t trying to guess; they were following the flow of communication that was happening in that direct capacity.”
In our own businesses, we shouldn’t only rely on advertising or influencers to communicate with our audience. We should also create direct lines of communication so we can listen to our customers’ needs to become a brand they love.
Thank you so much Mitch for sharing your stories and insights with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:
- Advertising can still be a credible way to communicate with our customers.The way advertising has changed has simply made it harder for the uncredible businesses to hide.
- The internet has removed many of the gatekeepers in the way of brands communicating with their customers.
- We should create direct lines of communication with our customers. This way we can listen to their wants and needs to create a brand they really love.
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