Online Marketing Meets the Presentation Layer
Forget about controlling your customers and dive deep into the essentials of messaging and brand.
Marketers love control. We crave it. We want to own the discussion. Setting the parameters of the interactions that our brands have with our consumers is our professional mission.
Many marketers have “grown up” in one-way media, be it television or print or catalog. In these experiences, the terms of the discussion were at the control of the marketer. By and large, we decided what our customers saw and heard.
But with the advent of the internet, our control has started to slip away. We control the presentation on our own websites (mostly), and in the early days of the internet, that was sufficient. As the dynamic nature of the internet and social media and search has evolved, it has become harder and harder to get the consumer to our little corner of the world, where their experience is shaped by our vision. Now we must attract them to that experience through multiple presentation layers that are the discovery mechanisms from which consumers self-select their interaction with us.
The two most obvious presentation layers are search and social media. Google , Bing, et al, shape the doorway to the internet. In essence, search engines have become a peculiar kind of portal, where the search engine results pages control our understanding of what is available to explore. This is the search presentation layer. The marketer has very modest control here. While we can espouse certain messages that we think will have impact, it is the search engines that ultimately decide what gets shown to whom and when. Social media has similar issues. You can only shape the Facebook experience so much. You can’t extend Twitter more than 140 characters. Marketers lose control of the terms of the discussion here. And this is a good thing.
What? Loss of control is good? Yes, it is!
When our brands and our experience gets filtered through another presentation layer, it forces us to focus on the essentials of our messaging and brand. When you have limited opportunity to shape the discussion, you’d better say the most important stuff as clearly and as directly as possible. Forget about setting the stage. When you are speaking through the Facebook or Google microphone, you focus on the best message. You focus on clarity. You focus on understanding.
The presentation layers of search and social can be intimidating because they strip away the trappings of a controlled environment. But leveraging these opportunities shouldn’t be intimidating, it should be liberating. Working inside of a presentation layer that is not yours forces you to RE-think, RE-imagine and RE-work your brand and your message. And the result is RE-ward!
Tim Kilroy is Vice President of Natural Search at PM Digital.