Rip Van Winkle: “Things Change Fast in Today’s World”

Antti Aapakari, the CEO at Luxus in Finland, made this comment on one of my Rip Van Winkle posts, “Excellent post! You’re so right. Things change fast in today’s world and you’ve got to keep up or get left behind.”

Statue of Rip Van Winkle, Irvington, NY

Image via Wikipedia

Things do change fast in the search industry. That’s why the six years between Search Engine Strategies NYC 2004 and SES New York 2010 seems like the 20 years that Rip Van Winkle was asleep.

“You’ve got to keep up or get left behind.”

Hopefully, this observation will help you wake up the marketing team, C-level executives, and IT/Web people in your organization on the need to keep up-to-date with industry trends, see new products and services, and maintain and build relationships.

Search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, and social media marketing aren’t programs that you can set and forget.

Do the folks in finance mistakenly think that learning search engine marketing is like learning the multiplication tables?

Tell them that YouTube and Twitter didn’t exist in 2004 and Facebook was still restricted to college students. Today, six out of seven U.S. Internet users now view online video content in a month, with YouTube continuing to experience rapid increase in viewership. And nearly four out of five Internet users visit a social networking site on a monthly basis, with Facebook and Twitter propelling much of the growth in the category.

Tell them that Google didn’t begin its move to universal search until May 2007, Bing wasn’t launched until May 2009, and Google didn’t launch real-time search until December 2009. Oh, and let them know that the U.S. core search market grew 16 percent in 2009, driven by a 6-percent gain in unique searchers and a 10-percent gain in search queries per searcher.

Tell them that Google didn’t reveal that Quality Score was used to determine which ads it would show above organic results until late 2008. And inform them that a high quality score can actually cause ads to jump over ads with lower quality scores that would otherwise not merit that prominent placement.

Tell them that your organization wouldn’t try to launch a new product or service based on market research conducted in 2004. And your organization wouldn’t try to gain market share based on a competitive analysis conducted six years ago. So, why would your organization try to get by without letting you attend leading conventions and tradeshows in the search industry?

I know, I know, the folks in finance are more interested in improving your organization’s return on marketing investment. Ask them how they expect you to do that if you can’t keep up-to-date with industry trends, see new products and services, and maintain and build relationships?

If all else fails, tell them the story of Rip Van Winkle. One autumn day, he encountered some strangely dressed men, who were playing nine-pins. After drinking some of their liquor, he settled down under a shady tree and fell asleep. When he woke up and returned to his village, he found that 20 years had passed. And he immediately got into trouble when he proclaimed himself a loyal subject of King George III, not knowing that the American Revolution had taken place.

Then, ask the folks in finance if they enjoy playing nine-pins or if they are loyal subjects of King George III. They may not get the literary allusion. But only Rip Van Winkle would expect you to improve your organization’s return on marketing investment using out-dated industry information and obsolete search engine marketing techniques.

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