The more things change, the more they stay the same

Wham.  I felt the flashback hit while I was reading the Web Workers Digest post.

The article “How to work with a reluctant social media client” was excellent. The author discussed why clients are reluctant of blogs and Twitter, discussed some ways to deal with the disconnect, and posed this question:

“Are we all just too ‘into it’ to remember that our clients are often way far away from it?”

What struck me, is you substitute “SEO copywriting” (or even search engine optimization”) for “social media,” this article could have been penned in 1998.  Hence the highly-painful flashback.

Back in SEO’s early days, first-generation search marketers was asking the same question.  Of course, no-one outside of our closed Searchie group knew what the hell redirects, Titles and HTML were.  Nor did many people care about their search rankings. Geeks were truly ruling the Internet world back then, and we had our own lingo to prove it. That’s why conferences were so awesome – finally there was a group of people who “got” what we did and could discuss the details.

But our clients didn’t “get it.” And that was frustrating.   We couldn’t understand why people weren’t willing to plunk down cash for a well-optimized site when the upside was so clearly positive.  So in an attempt to educate the industry (and hopefully future clients) we we wrote the same kind of educational articles, got on the same bandwagon and preached to the same choir.  Our message – yes, dammit, SEO is worth it.

Fortunately, it worked.

Fast forward 10 years to a recent colleague dinner. Many of us present were part of that first-generation SEO group. Yet, some were reluctant (including myself) to consider Twitter a useful social media technique “It won’t work, it’s not proven, and who the heck cares about my random thoughts” were frequent comments. Later that night, I realized something horrible. I hadn’t turned into my parents…it was worse than that. I had turned into the cynical, “old-school” marketer that drove me nuts 10 years ago.

Fortunately, I got over myself and realized that Twitter is incredibly useful (and yes, you can send tweets to @heatherlloyd).

It is not lost on me that some of the biggest proponents of social media were still in high school when I was shouting about SEO copywriting from the rooftops. SEO copywriting is now consideration a foundational step for any SEO campaign, but it’s also considered Web 1.0.  It’s no longer trendy, or hip, or a big risky expense. Sure, we still have to show ROI and educate clients. And there are still some companies that are new to the most basic SEO techniques.  But SEO is now considered a “standard” part of the marketing mix – just like social media will be 10 years from now.

What also isn’t lost on me is every marketer needs to break out of their comfort zone and stay current in today’s environment.  Sure, that’s easy enough to say – after all, it’s always crucial to stay abreast in one’s chosen profession. But being current also means embracing techniques that may not be a part of our current experience. I may not feel compelled to tweet every 10 minutes, but I am convinced that Twitter is highly useful if you know how to work it. Same with blogging – as an “old school” writer, it goes against every fiber of my being to write an off-the-cuff post without spending the day tweaking it. But has it brought in leads, increased my exposure and helped me communicate in a new way? You bet. It’s one thing to demand change and growth from our clients. It’s another to demand it from ourselves.

Certainly, new marketing methods aren’t necessarily more important than proven ones (as this article in DMNews suggests.) At the same time, today’s unproven opportunities can be tomorrow’s revenue-drivers for your company.

So why let fear hold you back from implementing an exciting new marketing channel?