Remember: We Have A Long Road to 100% Saturation
Articles like the one written by a midwest blogger, Marilyn Hagerty, about Olive Garden and her down-to-earth response to “going viral”, serve to remind us that the United States (and other countries) are not yet 100% online. The parts of the US that are online are not all connected via broadband or FIOS. This means that a large number of folks still connect with the familiar dial-up modem sound we all grew up loving, or, if they are lucky, DSL. Heck, so many places still don’t even have good cell phone coverage for all of these mobile apps we push so hard (my mom, for example, still has to drive 2 miles down a rural SC driveway to get close enough to a cell tower signal to get 2 bars on her Verizon phone).
One of the things that rankles as a marketer in 2012 is the assumption that because you have access to something – technology, restaurants, shopping, money, infrastructure, education – others do also. Traditional marketing may be changing but not quite at the pace the social media bubble would like. Many people who can afford TV (don’t forget how many can’t) still watch TV live (though many now also live tweet shows with their friends). People who love music still experience concerts without a cell phone in hand for Instagram, Facebook/Fousquare check ins or Twitter commentary, choosing instead to enjoy the show itself. People in certain parts of the country still use phone books, read the paper and buy real books (I know! Shocker!).
Are those traditional media elements and traditional marketing tactics becoming less effective as that population shrinks? Yes. But that population is a bigger demographic than many think, and we do a disservice to those that aren’t as connected as we are to forget they exist or to choose to leave them behind (or, in the case of this reviewer, mock them).
We can also learn a lesson from people like our intrepid Olive Garden food reviewer (a writer for decades, by the way) – while the internet was busy harping on her having written a “serious” review about Olive Garden (I’d say “knowing her target audience” instead, folks – perspective) she was out living life: playing bridge and enjoying a full life outside of a computer box. Perhaps those marketers that are going to be most successful as we transition from one world to a new world are the ones who remember to also step into the big blue box outside their window once in a while to get real world connections and experiences that will broaden their scope.
Meanwhile, I loved the response from her son in the Wall Street Journal. A lovely and poignant look at his mom and her many talents.