I read an interesting article by marketing author Danny Brown today. The part that particularly struck a chord was about ‘digital marketing’.

Brown says:

“Perhaps the biggest shift in thinking is around the terminology. For some reason, we’ve allowed ourselves to get sucked in by the word ‘digital’.

Digital marketing  … digital consultant … digital content … digital agency … digital ads … digital PR … and on and on.

Why is it so important to make the digital distinction? Does the thinking behind a strategy really change?

No – the tactics and what platforms to use change. But the overall strategy remains the same – what’s our goal, how are we going to achieve it and then measure the success?

And people do not change. We’re creatures of habit. Consumers are the same.

While research channels have evolved, the basic questions remain: Can your company meet my needs? Are your products reliable? And will I be looked after once I become a customer? These questions are asked in-store, on forums, on telemarketing calls, on email and, yes, on digital channels.

The channel is irrelevant – it’s the answer that matters.”


In places, Brown is clearly wrong – or at least overstates his case.

It’s untrue, with the advent of digital technology and its associated lifestyles changes, that marketing strategies should remain exactly the same.

It’s an exaggeration to say ‘the channel is irrelevant’. New channels mean we should often adopt new (or additional) ways of communicating and marketing.

Nor is it strictly true that customers remain the same. They’re finding, consuming and disseminating information, forming opinions and making decisions in different ways. This evolving behaviour has clear implications for companies’ marketing efforts.

But I fully support Brown’s basic point: that people’s underlying thinking, desires and concerns remain consistent; and that a company’s products, message and customer service are the most vital factors – just as they always have been.

I also agree that the obsession with ‘digital’ as an all-pervading buzzword can be a dangerous distraction – focusing too much attention on the medium rather than the marketing fundamentals.

Companies should always start with a much broader view – and digital channels are by no means always the best way to talk to your cusotmers.

As I wrote in a blog post a year ago, ‘continuing to distinguish ‘digital’ communications … perpetuates the idea of a silo discipline, making intelligent integration across channels much less likely.’

Brown puts it well at the end of his piece: ‘Stop focusing on how to be better at digital and simply focus on how to be better full stop.’


What do you think – is ‘digital’ an important distinction to uphold, or is it high time to drop the term? 

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