If location, location, location is still the mantra for real estate, there is one word that seems to define our existence in the new business world, and, specifically, the world of marketeers. That word is BLENDED. What does blended mean? Blended, in this case, is a mixture between the “real” (or face to face) and the “virtual” (online).
Not intended to be a testament to the digital marketing phenomenon Blendtec, I consider three domains where operating in a blended manner is key: blended marketing, blended learning and blended networking. It is all about mixing the online with the offline.
Blended Marketing is the seamless integration of digital marketing (internet site, social media, eCommerce…) into the traditional marketing (tv, print, retail). Each channel has its advantages and requires a tailored message or method. More importantly, each channel must be complementary, whereby the objective and strategy per channel is carefully delimited. What goes for marketing, also goes for sales/commerce, PR, customer service and more…
Blended Learning is the art of combining classroom with distance learning, using technology to facilitate the learning. The best blended learning actually brings technology into the classroom and participates in the face-to-face interaction. Blended Learning tools (learning management systems, podcasts, wikis, videos, etc.) help create a before-during-after for any particular class or curriculum in order to precede and prolong the classroom experience. For advanced companies and organizations, the real goal is beyond blended learning and that is “social learning,” where we create an environment that encourages learning from one another (on and offline).
Blended Networking is the knack of networking at meetings and conferences and optimizing and converging the networking with online networks such as Viadeo and Linkedin, or other number of other social network sites. The online connection can lead very naturally to offline meeting and vice-versa.
If I am fervent evangelist for all things digital, I still profoundly believe in the value of the handshake, the most basic and powerful tool of marketing that exists. The trick is not thinking it is either/or, or that digital is a separate activity. The key is to figure out how to operate seamlessly in both worlds, knowing that blended communication is the common ground. Whether the communication comes in the form of a fax, an SMS, an instant chat, a Facebook message or an email, all communications are part of a larger interaction. Each channel has its codes and benefits. We just need to be sufficiently agile to keep up with it all! And rapdity is also essential — an minute online seems like a hour offline, so the rules are not all the same.
What other forms of blends are there that interest you? As always, will enjoying hearing your thoughts and feedback!