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The Transition to Digital: It's Not Over
By: Brett Moneta
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After working in the digital world for 16 years, I realize every now and then that I take some things for granted. One of those things is that everyone has finally embraced digital as the new standard medium. They haven’t.

Of course, I also thought this in 2007, when I went to a big agency. This was a place with huge clients and a lot of very smart people. It had originally focused on direct mail and had hired an interactive team that had been in place for a year. The day I walked in, I expected to learn the key to creating integrated marketing campaigns. I assumed they would have it all figured out. I was surprised to learn that they’d kept the interactive and direct mail separate until a few months before. By the time I left, we’d come far and learned a lot, but were still experimenting.

A few years later, circa 2009, I had a short stint with a major retail company that still had a printed catalog. In fact, when they were planning their editorial calendar, they didn’t even involve the digital teams. Once the catalog had decided its strategy, it would share its images and copy points with digital, to “translate” them to the digital medium. If you’re reading this, that probably surprises you a lot. After all, big companies like Sears ditched their catalogs in the mid-'90s.

So what’s the deal? Are these companies rare or just out of touch? In fact, neither is the case. Sure, most, if not all, business have a digital component by now. But are they integrating it? The truth is that, even though people understand how important the medium is, they still don’t know how to use it properly.  While digital may move fast, business simply can’t keep up.

So have patience with your clients. They’re on your side, but many of them can’t understand the new technology enough to make sense of your great ideas. They see the money. They see the popularity. They can understand the power of its reach.  They’re just not sure what to make of it.

So while we all want to impress our clients with high-tech language and buzzwords that impress them, don’t forget there’s still a lot of education to be done. And it can’t be done overnight. Remember to include basic terminology that business understands. Mention social media, but follow up by explaining the power of joining the conversation. Talk about location-based services, but make sure you have a mobile phone in your hand when you explain them.

Don’t necessarily dumb it down, but make sure they understand what you’re telling them. Most respected business people have a great poker face. The best way to do it is to interview or research potential clients beforehand and find out the level of their knowledge.

Just don’t assume that people know what you’re talking about. The Transition to Digital may be in full swing, but it isn’t over.

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About the Author
Brett Moneta has been playing in the digital world since 1996. He’s worked for companies like AOL, Avenue A | Razorfish, and Omnicom, developing content strategy and consulting on usability for companies in IT, consumer electronics, retail, healthcare, energy, and more. You can follow his tweets and read his blog too. Find him online here.
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