A client asked me this very question recently and it got me to thinking about what's wrong with the way a lot of us think about search marketing. The major concept behind successful search marketing (and indeed all of Internet marketing) is direct marketing. And the more you know about direct marketing, the less this question makes sense.
A veteran direct marketer would tell you that direct marketers don't easily distinguish between sales and marketing. After all, if you are sent a catalog and you rip out the order form and send it in, where did the marketing stop and the sales begin?
But most companies can easily separate their sales from their marketing. I mean, most companies have a Chief Marketing Officer on one side and a VP of Sales on the other. Any communications that go to big groups of customers are called marketing, while interactions with individual customers must be sales.
That's because brand marketing, which is what most companies do, is easily separable from sales. Unfortunately, Internet marketing, and search marketing in particular, are based on direct marketing--on tying each individual sale back to the marketing that produced it.
So, if your company is tossing and turning over whether you need to align search marketing with marketing or sales, you might be asking the wrong question. Instead, try to figure out how to make search marketing align marketing and sales with each other.
If you're thinking, "We don't sell things online, so we can't do direct marketing," it's not so. I admit that it's harder to count offline sales than online sales, but it's just as important. If you can't tie your offline sales to how they started on the Web, then you don't know what you did right to get that sale. Once you figure that out, you're a direct marketer. And probably a successful search marketer, too.
Mike is an expert in search marketing, search technology, social media, publishing, text analytics, and web metrics, who regularly makes speaking appearances.
Mike's previous appearances include ClickZ Live, RKG Summit, Ticket Summit, Webdagene, the CiTE conference, and the Forrester Marketing Conference.
Mike also founded and writes for Biznology, is the co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc., and sole author of Do It Wrong Quickly, named by the Miami Herald as one of the 11 best business books of 2007.
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