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Digital marketing – the easy alternative?

There’s one thing we’re all led to believe about technology: it’s supposed to make our lives easier. What’s more, in an age when marketers are being challenged to slash overheads, do more in less time and save carbon, surely technology can provide some help there too, can’t it?

That’s just one of the things we set out to explore - in a very practical way - at the CIMCIG digital marketing workshop on 17 March.

By the wonders of the worldwide web, simultaneous events were held in London, Bristol and Leamington Spa, with speakers broadcasting from each venue during the course of the afternoon.

It was a first for CIMCIG - a bold plan that took weeks of preparation. We did it for several reasons.

Firstly, marketers are being challenged to use ever-changing technology in a relevant way. There’s a pressure on marketers to know how webinars, virtual events and video conferences work, and understand the pros and cons.

So we did our own event to give delegates a real-life ‘social media experience’ so they could see first hand what those benefits and pitfalls might be.

Secondly, it promised huge potential for us as CIMCIG. With our membership dispersed around the country, perhaps this kind of virtual approach could provide more convenient regional events and a model for the future.

Overall the event was well received, despite a few technical hitches. We had six excellent speakers, who each gave insightful presentations packed full of relevance - and they all deserve credit for rising to the occasion:

  • Andy Bargery of Klaxon Marketing, who spoke from London on blogging, giving practical tips for planning and optimising blogs;
  • Julian Gratton of RedC, who offered guidance in selecting and using social media in his session from Leamington Spa;
  • Alex Cottrell of Earl & Thompson, who tackled online advertising from Bristol, including managing pay-per-click;
  • Kirstie Colledge of SMPR, who spoke on online PR, while also hosting at Leamington Spa;
  • Jane Rigby of MRA Marketing, who helped us understand the importance of integration in her session from Bristol;
  • Pritesh Patel of Pauley Creative, who demystified elements of Google Analytics for us in the final presentation from London on measurement.

The big question perhaps is whether we would do it again. For the organisers, the event certainly wasn’t an ‘easy alternative’ - it involved far more co-ordination and cost than if we’d held it at one venue. And while technology may have its place in future events, it won’t eliminate the traditional face-to-face approach.

In the same way, digital marketing itself isn’t an easy, cheap alternative that can replace all other marketing communications, as some might believe. As we learned during the afternoon’s seminars, digital marketing needs to be planned, integrated with offline marketing, and carefully measured.

Done well, it can inform and improve the rest of the marketing communications mix, and the opportunities are certainly vast. But it also means there’s much more to plan and think about - definitely not less.

Annette Harpham is a CIMCIG committee member and principal of SharpEdge Marketing, which offers marketing consultancy, freelance marketing management and copywriting.


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