Death of an internet marketer

Ian Lurie

A very short play.

The setting:
A dinner party about 1 year ago.

The cast:
Them: An advertising exec from a traditional agency. 15+ years’ experience.
Me: You know.


Them: “So, Ian, what do you do?”

Me: “I run an internet marketing agency.”

Them: “Oh. What’s that?”

Me: “We help companies get more leads, sales, whatever through marketing on the internet.”

Them: “What’s marketing on the internet? Buying banner ads? We tried that a few years back. We made a sweet percentage on it.”

Me: “We focus more on the stuff that drives conversions or builds audience in a measurable way: Search engines, social media, site optimization, that kind of thing.”

Them: “So, you build websites! Hey, my friend is starting a new business and needs some help with their site. They don’t have much money, but I’m sure they could send more business your way. Can I have them give you a call?”

Me: “Um, we don’t really build many sites. We help folks improve existing sites, by making them more visible in search results, growing their audience and fixing issues that might prevent visitors from becoming customers.”

Them: “…”

Me: “I help people show up higher on Google.”

Them: “Ohhhhhhhh. They were talking about that on Dexter last week.”

Me: (head explodes)


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  1. I know… it bothers me too that this mentality is out there. It’s like traditional marketing stayed the same while Internet marketing grew up and became the force it is today.
    Look at it this way… at least you don’t have to view those dinosaurs as real competition. Even the best retainer clients are waking up to the fact that their traditional agencies are fleecing them in exchange for a print ad that comes with a URL.

  2. Ah yes…a conversation that gets repeated throughout the land on a daily basis, and the bane of our existence!
    It starts with the glazing of the eyes as you explain what you do (even the elevator pitch doesn’t seem to work — gotta work on that I guess!) and then extends into the same “Yeah, I know someone that needs help with…” and then MY eyes glaze over…
    I’ve learned with everything in life — unless you work in that field — your preconceptions of it, and more so, your understanding of the difficulty of implementing or executing it in a top-notch fashion is very limited.
    So I’ve learned to adapt…ahem, I mean be polite.
    Just as I could care less how to bake a double layer fudge cake with a hint of caramel & peanut butter, or how long it takes, so too does the same apply to what we do.
    We’re the folks that “make pretty websites” and do that “Google thingie…”
    C’est la vie!

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