Traditional Marketing is from Mars. Search Marketing is from Saturn

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By Jim Bernthal, President, Top Floor Technologies,

It continues to amaze me the wide divide that exists between the traditional marketing professional and the search marketing professional. Even though companies have been trying to market themselves on-line for over 10 year these two disciplines seem to live on different planets. If we are going to best serve our clients we have to find a way to come together and maybe the first step is understanding the problem.

Traditional Marketers are from Mars. Search Marketers are from Saturn.

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On the planet of Mars there is a big emphasis on image. It’s a very colorful place. Sort of weird but I couldn’t find a single street sign. The closest things to street signs were actually billboards with cool logos. Because Martians spend a ton on brand marketing they seem to know what these logos stand for, so while it’s not perfect, they seem to be able to find their way around.

The Kiosks at the mall on Mars list stores by brand name and logo only. What I found sort of amusing was they didn’t have a listing for “Restrooms” on the Kiosk. Instead there was a picture of a toilet. At first I wasn’t sure what it meant. I was wondering if Kohler had come up with a new logo. Thank God I figured it out.

Martians place a major emphasis on fashion. Everyone has their own style. Whether it’s grunge, punk or preppy it’s clear that everyone makes certain they fit the part. You could tell that even the grunge guys spent a lot of time and money making sure they are just the right flavor of grunge.

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Something else weird; I walked into a store looking for jeans and this half naked Martian women kept coming up to me and telling be about “The Thing”. I’m not sure what “The Thing” was but it must be pretty cool- something to do with “brand”. Was “The Thing” a brand of jeans? Was I in a store that sold jeans?

Saturn’s a whole different experience.

Not a very colorful place. There is some color but it always seemed to be used for a functional purpose. For example; when I went to the Mall I noticed that when I visited the Kiosk all the stores I had been to that day were marked in a different color then the ones I had yet to visit.

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The Kiosk and the Mall was organized by type of products. No logos or brand names at all. I found this sort of weird but I must admit I didn’t have any problem finding what I needed.

Quite frankly I probably didn’t even need the Kiosk because the entire mall was organized so well. It’s like they spent a lot of time trying to get into their customers mind to figure out what they might call the things they might be looking for. If there is one thing they are good at on Saturn it is anticipating what a person might be looking for and making sure they have no problem finding it.

In addition, stores were organized into like groups. All the sporting related stores were in one area of the mall, the home furnishing stores, in another and so on. Quite frankly Saturn is probably one of the most organized planets in the galaxy.

However, Saturn’s not a good place to grow up if you want to be a fashion designer. They had one clothing store- “Functional Fashion Wear”. As you can see, Saturnians don’t place a high value on individuality or creativity they just want to get the job done.

And so it goes. While the Martians and Santurians all seem to be happy in their own little world they really have a difficult time adapting to each other’s culture. They talk a different language and they have different value systems. They live in different worlds.

The problem is the Earthlings that count on these marketers get the short end of the stick, because on Earth it’s all important. So my question is this; how do we solve this dilemma?


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