Why your marketing "signal" should be analog not digital


In the world of music production, you fundamentally have a choice between digital and analog techniques. Whilst for many years this choice was constrained to the murky world of studio technicians, engineers and sound geeks, consumers became famously aware of the differences in the debate over whether CDs (digital) are better than vinyl records (analog). 

Ignoring factors like convenience, longevity and corporate monetization, digital v analog has a more fundamental, scientific difference.

Sound is basically a bunch of waves coming at you like a series of gently rolling hills. The waveforms generated by vocals, instruments and electronics all create these hills. An analog system (such as that used to create vinyl records) takes these waves and tries to faithfully reproduce those gently rolling hills (albeit with some old tech). A digital system however uses the latest in smart tech to convert those sound into a series of ones and zeros, creating a series of jagged peaks.

Which means a digital signal is either there (as a one) or not there (as a zero). Whilst an analog signal always exists.

Difficult to grasp?

Well, the easiest example to relate to is radio. A radio station on AM/FM wavelengths may very well fade out, or suffer from interference. However the same (digitally enhanced) station on DAB gets no interference or noise whatsoever, and can sometimes just cut out. In the DAB digital world the signal is there or not there. There is no interference. No half-way house. No faint signal. Which is the downside of ones and zeros - they either exist or they don't exist.

Which is also the danger with a lot of marketing. The temptation is to be digitally perfect on a periodic basis. We're all scared of making mistakes (weak signal) or saying the wrong thing (interference) but the reality is we need to be on all the time. And if the signal we're projecting fades in and out occasionally, thats fine. We should all learn to experiment, and not be afraid of failure.

Of course prolonged (or repeated) failure over time is a bad thing, but with online marketing we can try, measure, fail and improve over a few days (and in some cases over a few hours). Which is why we should all go analog.

So to get analog I suggest 4 things:

  1. Find a way to be continually in tune with your market. The most obvious way is to set up Google alerts on your industry, competitors & markets. Or have pre-built streams in a social media tool like Hootsuite.
  2. Get in to a real-time measurement mindset. Set up a daily dashboard in your CRM system, or a daily analytics reports from your web analytics tool.
  3. Automate your analog-ness by investing in an automation platform (such as Silverpop) that can be constantly pinging your audiences with the right information at the right time.  All the time.
  4. Set aside a small amount of your budget (say 10%) to spend exclusviely on experimental projects. Try that whacky ad copy or build a fun viral video. Even the most modest budgets can support experimentation.

Being analog is a state of mind, not a thing you can buy. The chances are your competitors have made the move already and are out-marketing you. They're out there right now, spoiling your digital perfection with their analog noise.

So, forget stalling and remember, practice makes perfect. So get playing!