Trying to Put Your Finger on those Online Marketing Smoke Signals

This weekend I turned into Dougie Knowles.

Doug was a bygone old buffer from the land that time forgot during my formative years at Nelson Cricket Club. He was a lovely chap. Dougie was a left-arm finger spinner who’d lost the tips of his spinning fingers in a weaving accident and happened to play at the same time as Johnny Wardle – arguably England’s most prolific left-arm finger spinner ever. You could say on a variety of levels that he’d been dealt something of a bum hand.

This could’ve turned Doug into a bitter old swine, but, while it’s generally accepted that having a full set of fingers is quite useful when attempting to spin a cricket ball, Doug managed to get more than enough purchase off the rough end of his stumps. We always liked how he blamed playing at the same time as Johnny Wardle as being the reason why his first team chances were limited rather than his ‘disability’. Life becomes far more acceptable if you were second in line to England’s greatest ever left-arm tweaker.

The Intricacies of left arm spin – learn more…..you know you want to.

Doug was also partial to the odd pint and the odd sly smoke of a cigarette. I say sly in that his wife would tell him off in full view of everybody should she catch him puffing away. Some would say he was petrified of her and others claim him to be cuckolded. The cuckold camp was emboldened when they learned of Dougie’s wife locking Doug in his house, confiscating any money and taking his keys whenever she went out. He was a prisoner in his own home.

Dougie was also a little mutton and wore a hearing aid. And oh the fun we used to have as 18 year olds taking turns while stood at the bar to sneak behind him and whistle in a high-pitch tone until he turned it down or took it off.

One Tuesday evening after cricket practice we were having a rare old time giving grief on the old hearing-aid front. We just did it enough for him to get annoyed, but not enough for him to do anything about it. Although, it did get to the point where he turned the thing down. He could still hear us fairly well but struggled with anybody outside of a couple of feet. But, he didn’t care as the beer was tasting strangely decent.

Doug was getting a wee bit tipsy. He was regaling us with one of his wartime cricket tales. Halfway through his tale and halfway through a cigarette, the doors sprang open and there was his wife. She hadn’t seen Doug immediately, but we’d seen her and quickly informed him so he could put his fag out and pretend to be remotely sober. But instead of being canny and simply placing his cigarette in a nearby ashtray, handing it to one of us, or simply dropping it, he used the old-school weaver’s ashtray – his coat pocket. It might not have been a weaver thing as much as a war thing – people needing to put their cigarettes out quickly during an air raid and wanting to smoke the rest of the ration later. (Then again, I may have just made that up!)

The next thing you know his wife has honed in on Doug and flounced over. She’d come to pick him up and started to immediately admonish him for not having the sense to notice her as she walked in. Doug sobered up pretty sharpish and sheepishly enquired if she’d care for a drink.

Of course, she didn’t.

As she gave him the second degree we could see smoke rising from his coat pocket. The coat pocket ashtray works fairly well if you have nerve endings in your finger stumps and you can feel if there’s a bit of glowing cherry on your cigarette end. If your nerve endings are shot you can look extremely hard putting your cig out with your bare flesh, but you look amazingly stupid if you’ve panicked and have no idea if the thing is still lit or not and setting fire to tissues in your pocket.

He was beyond our help now. It wasn’t so much us throwing him under the bus as us leaving him under the bus. What could we do? We were more scared than he was. Thankfully, she was that annoyed at him that she started to drag him out in a controlled fashion without really creating a scene. Bless him. I could’ve sworn the smoke still rising from his coat was trying to tell us something.

As for my weekend Dougie Knowles moment; no, I didn’t lose my fingers or set fire to my pocket, but I was left home alone without any finances as I’d packaged my dear lady off up to Cleveland with my card and had no idea as to where my house keys were. I was left penniless and trapped – yes, I’m that useless. Oh, and I have tinnitus which means my ears are permanently whistling Dixie.

In my time I’ve met many a business whose sales and marketing teams are a bit like Doug and his missus. Normally it’s the marketing team so petrified of the sales team that they don’t have room to breathe or move. Sometimes the two can be so out of whack that there’s no room to get anything done due to desperate competition and one-upmanship.

I could argue that a business with this type of attitude or culture is almost impossible for us to work with as online marketers. The reason that some of these types are so hard to work with is that their culture is so closed to the possibilities of things they haven’t tried and tested for themselves. After all, they have commissions to make to get food on their table and they know exactly what has worked for them in the past. Also, in the case of some existing marketing departments, they see the online space as a direct threat to their very existence.

But the online space should be seen as an additional and complementary channel as opposed to a competing one. And part of our job as operators in that space is to help educate and inform businesses of the current trends and opportunities open to them to help drive profits.

That’s why we have a section of our Website dedicated to the latest online marketing news and trends as well as a full glossary of Internet marketing terms.

For example, there’s one particular article from last week talking about how important online research is to driving offline sales – with added statistics no less. It’s pretty hard for anybody to ignore that over 43% of holiday shoppers last November used a combination of online research and offline stores as their primary shopping channel.

After all, these little snippets and other bits of news may seem like curious smoke signals, but give it time and we’ll be able to help you make sense of most of it without upsetting your existing apple cart.

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