Please, Stop Calling It Digital Marketing

By Arthur Germain | 3.20.18

I was hoping — praying — that 2018 would see an end to marketers and agencies using the term “digital marketing.” Alas, that’s not the case. A quick Google search for the term shows that it’s alive and well among the marketing digerati.


I implore those of you reading today to stop using this term. Let’s put an end to digital marketing as a description for what we do.


Here’s why:


Digital marketing became a popular term to describe a different way for brands to connect with consumers and for agencies to provide marketing services to clients. It was supposed to be the next evolution of “traditional marketing” and an answer to how we as marketers and marketing agencies were integrating the web, email, content marketing, podcasts, etc., into our work.


But it's become a meaningless term. As my partner, Creative Director Michael Simbrom, is fond of asking, “What do they mean by digital? Do they work with their fingers?”


Today everything is connected (h/t to Dirk Gently), therefore everything is digital. Traditional marketing uses digital elements to expand, enhance, and amplify messages. Is there anyone reading this who’s not using digital tools to build print materials and then creating complementary digital versions of those materials for online advertising, content downloads, and the like?


I didn't think so.


At an award ceremony for communication professionals, I heard team after team introduced as “a digital marketing agency.” When we were introduced as a “brand storytelling agency” everyone turned to see who or what we were.


We based our differentiator on a belief in the Power of Story while the rest of the agencies in the room based their differentiator on a technical capability — that everyone else possessed and called their own, as well.


Don't get me wrong. There are fantastic “digital” marketing agencies out there with wonderful storytelling capabilities and creative to provide an emotional punch. My objection is that continuing to use the term “digital marketing” takes away the impact of what they provide for clients.


Let’s focus on improving customer experience and conversation. Let’s assume that we all have digital capabilities and stop using the term “digital marketing” to describe what we do.


Come on people, it’s almost 2020!

This article is an edited version of a post that first appeared on LinkedIn.

About the Author

Arthur Germain is Principal & Chief Brandteller of Communication Strategy Group, a brand storytelling agency he founded in 2005. The agency helps companies connect with prospects and customers through the Power of Story. Arthur is a speaker on brand strategy and brand storytelling.

You can also find Arthur on LinkedIn.