Observed: No Wonder Our Parents Are Confused

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One thing I’m willing to bet every Internet marketer reading this has in common is that your parents still probably don’t fully understand what you do for a living.
I can’t tell you how many times my parents (both of whom are highly educated professionals) will inform me that they ran into someone at a party that was “in the same line of work as you are, dear.” When I do a bit of digging, nine times out of ten it turns out that the supposed ‘industry colleague’ they’ve met is actually a Web designer or IT support person.

“For the last time, mom and dad, I don’t build Web sites and I don’t fix computers! My clients already have Websites and IT people. What they don’t have is enough sales or a reliable way to accomplish that.”

At least that’s what I imagine myself saying to my parents, but usually I just thank them for the information and politely change the topic.
I can hardly blame my parents, or anyone else I meet who is confused about what Internet marketing is, when I see how some of us describe what we do. For instance, check out what one agency that I have been told does Internet marketing uses on the “Services” page of their corporate Website:

“We provide channel agnostic Relationship Marketing services that focus on the customer experience of the brand. A synergistic consumer experience is created with a holistic end-to-end approach that encompasses all points of contact.”

Huh?
Honestly, have you ever seen so much jargon in one place at one time? (Buzzword Bingo, anyone?) I work in the business and have re-read that paragraph several times and I still don’t know what this agency (which shall remain nameless) actually does. Can you imagine what a potential client reading that would make of it?
Perhaps that’s this agency’s ingenious marketing strategy: be as cryptic as possible so that the reader will be motivated to contact them for clarification:

“So, I’m looking for an agency and was browsing your Website just now to find out what your company does but I couldn’t understand your services description so I thought I’d call you instead to find out.”

Then again, maybe not.
Jargon or no jargon, the onus is on us as Internet marketers to do a better job of explaining what we do, myself included. Especially now that many lay people are becoming aware of the concept of “Internet marketing” even if they have little or no clue what it actually means.
If we can find a way to explain to our parents what we actually do for a living, then we will have made great progress – both for ourselves and for our profession.
Mom and dad, I think it’s time we had a little chat…

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One thought on “Observed: No Wonder Our Parents Are Confused

  1. Candu

    First, thanks for the excellent thought starter. I wonder if part of the challenge of describing what you do is that Internet Marketing blends highly technical elements with more traditional strategic marketing and design elements? Add to this that the industry is highly vertically integrated so a one person shop, with the right experience, could plan, design, execute, host, buy and distribute online advertising and run a number of corporate Web businesses? If we can learn from history, perhaps the answer can be found in the CD Rom/Multimedia industry. It seems almost ludicrous now to think that dozens of magazines (no blogs back then) were created to talk about the CD Rom drive and software written to CD discs. Multimedia spawned business ventures, enormous discussion and new industry categories that eventually got swallowed up because both movements became the norm rather than a novelty. If I had to peg you down I would say that you are a marketing pioneer helping to develop a new way of doing business on the Web that will, in time eventually become the norm.

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