The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Digital Media Guy

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Digital media

One of the less-discussed but actually very important problems faced by a guy (male or female) who gets hired by a firm to ‘do the digital thing’ that no-one else understands, is that – well – no-one else understands what the poor person says or does.

I see a lot of B2B industrial or service companies who know that they ought to be up to date with social media and be using the digital marketing techniques that more and more of their competitors are embracing: and their instinctive reaction is to reach out to the nearest employment agency to make a full-time hiring of a Digital Marketing Manager or a Social Media Manager.

I have written at length about the real cost of such a hiring, which is way more in real terms than most people budget for, and you can see our video about this subject. But in this article, what I want to draw your attention to is just what a fish out of water the new hire usually is. It can in fact be quite cruel to the person concerned.

Solo Performer

Older readers may have heard of or seen the classic movie ‘The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner’, where the young runner is ultimately alone and left to fend for himself, cut off from his peers in the crowd. He ends up rebelling and refusing to compete.

We all know the importance of teamwork in achieving business success. But the team culture in your business is likely to be based around production, or maybe around legal expertise, or whatever your core skills are. Your added value depends on this. It is not impossible for a specialist digital marketing person to fit into the jigsaw, but all too often that person will be an imperfect match.

People of my acquaintance who do such jobs are full of stories about how the ignorance or superficial knowledge of their directors and fellow-managers leads to misunderstanding and friction.

For example, imagine you are making a presentation of your Pay-per-Click campaign results. The Sales Director’s read a bit about this sort of thing and he berates you for the low click-through rate. In vain you try to explain that you are targeting a very large number of (entirely relevant) search terms and thus getting a lot of opportunities to view: and these are free. What other marketing activity would give you such exposure at no cost? But despite you showing that you are not randomly spamming people, there are those around the table who will criticise you for scoring lower than Google’s worldwide average CPC. Whereas an informed discussion would be focussing on the quality of the leads being generated for the sales team, and whether that team was converting them…

Worse still is the situation where 6 months into his or her tenure, members of the management team worry about the perceived lack of tangible results, not appreciating that the new website needs many months in order to achieve a higher organic search positioning, or that engagement with the blogs and Twitter and LinkedIn feeds will only gradually build up.

The Antidote to Traditional Agencies

So what’s the alternative? Here I declare my interest. I appreciate that there has been a reluctance among some firms to outsource their digital activities to an agency, on the grounds of cost and a perceived lack of empathy with the company’s core business. So I reimagined the way in which a specialist digital consultancy/agency should work. It had to meet some key criteria:

1. Personal contact in the UK
2. Fully-briefed manager and team
3. A full suite of digital and creative skills
4. Cost-effective operation

The way in which we met these criteria was to staff the senior client-facing management and editors in London, and to create our own team of talented digital media specialists (all graduates) in Mumbai who offer a round-the-clock website, social media, infographics and blogging service.

Our latest addition has been a team of highly-trained inbound and outbound telephone salespeople based in Johannesburg. They can really increase your sales and customer service results; and you can test their services at low cost.

Whatever package of services you decide upon, I guarantee that engaging our team will be cheaper and more effective than hiring a lone individual. But even if that person is already in place and has integrated well with your organisation, then he or she will need external assistance to carry out the actual digital work. In which case Hannon Digital will work seamlessly with them. To quote an old car dealer advertisement, we are ‘nice people to do business with’…