My focus, as in all my marketing consultancy, is really on what is different about digital marketing – and I don’t mean the techniques and the technology, but the mind set. For someone trained in conventional marketing like me, that is the most important aspect of digital marketing and what defines it.

The prime difference between conventional marketing and digital market is how you contact your market, and it is rarely what your messages are. The real difference, however, is intrinsic to that statement.  I learned this, as you might expect, from one set of books we published, Stuart Haining’s The Practical Digital Marketeer, one of the most entertaining sets of books I’ve read, and it really has changed the way I go to market and how I think.

In conventional marketing you have the various media through which you distribute your messages, whether that is, for example, print, broadcast, conferences, symposia, and mail shots – including email. Essentially your distribution channel is at best neutral or at least indifferent – it doesn’t care what you are saying or whether your messaging interests the people it addresses. As long as your messaging is not offensive, not libellous or slanderous and is reasonably accurate, the media you choose will have no concern with how effective your marketing efforts are.

In digital marketing this is still partly true, but because it is also mainly untrue you have to change your mindset when creating your digital marketing campaign.

There is obviously a great deal of focus on search engine optimisation, tags, keeping content updated, understanding how the search engines’ algorithms work, and a myriad of other important elements, but to my mind these are a second order concern. If you can understand what the search engines are actually looking for for their customers – not your customers – you will start to see what I mean and you can start to make your marketing campaigns that much more effective.

The search engines want their customers to come back to them, so their focus is on providing answers to queries that are usually concise, direct, highly informative and, above all, precise. If you search for how to drill a hole in a wall, you don’t want to be bombarded with answers that deal with that at a tangent or get sold something that won’t make that easier. The search engines know that the ability to provide the most appropriate answer will keep their customers coming back and will make their business stronger. So if your digital marketing does that for them, you will be in a win win environment.

I’m not saying throw away all the intense learning about algorithms and SEO, but think about your digital marketing within this different perspective as your starting point.

Digital marketing means you have to focus initially on the demands of the people providing the media, and secondly on your potential customers and clients – and that is a truly game-changing perspective.