Digital Marketing Reminders Gained from a European Vacation

My family and I just returned from a much-needed vacation to France and Spain – a dream trip made affordable by the amazing hospitality of our European friends.  I had planned to get ahead with this blog but a new freelance project took priority, so I happily decided to skip a couple of posts and let the cards fall where they may.

The world did not end, proving once again that the stress and pressures of everyday life are largely self-imposed.  This was a great reality check in itself and one that I hope will stay with me in the coming months as I strive to hold on to my vacation induced zen state.  Of course, as a blogger, I am always looking for ways to apply my experiences to my work.  To that end, below are a few reminders about digital marketing that I took away from this trip.

Perspective Isn’t Just for Artists

Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte - Inspiration for Versailles
Gardens of Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte

Our first stop was Paris, where our hosts pointed out the use of “perspective” that is demonstrated throughout their beautiful city.  From the view of the Eiffel Tower from the Arc de Triomphe to the gardens at the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, which inspired Versailles – there are many examples of how things can appear different when looked at from a unique vantage.

As marketers we must always consider the perspective of our customers.  We work in this field every single day and it is easy to forget how far we have come and the knowledge we have gained.  When communicating with current and potential customers we must be sure to slow down and provide information at the level that they require.  This is not an insult, it’s a courtesy.  Respect the fact that your customer may be knowledgeable in their field, but not yours.

Digital Marketers Can (and Should) Unplug

Castle View from Lapradelle-Puilaurens
Castle View from Lapradelle-Puilaurens

After a few days of sightseeing, we left Paris and traveled to the south of France to the tiny town of Lapradelle-Puilaurens.  We stayed with friends who have a summer home with a view of a ruined medieval castle from the backyard.  Amazing.  Our pace slowed way down as we relaxed and enjoyed our time with this lovely family.  After moving at breakneck speed, this was a welcome change and a huge lesson in how desperately we all need to unplug – if only for a few days.

After seeing numerous blog posts this summer questioning whether digital workers can ever actually unplug, I recently came across a great article from Jessica Fish who spoke of the necessity of doing so.  She is absolutely correct.  Taking the time to recover and reconnect with our families is essential for the digital marketer.  Stepping back from our everyday world allows us to look around and discover things we may otherwise miss.  When we re-engage with our work we do so with a fresh attitude and new ideas.  This isn’t self indulgent, it’s critical to avoiding burnout and continuing to produce quality work.

Never Underestimate the Power of Visual Media

Mae West Room at Dalí Museum in Figueres
Mae West Room at Dalí Museum

The final part of our trip took us to Barcelona, by way of a quick stop in Figueres to visit the Salvador Dalí house and museum.  Dalí’s beautiful home, which he shared with his beloved wife, was fantastic in every detail and included a lip shaped sofa, a master bedroom with two beds (Lucy and Desi style) and a secret room with amazing audio effects.  The Dalí museum was equally captivating with its endless array of unusual, thought-provoking art.  In Barcelona we toured the amazing Sagrada Família (a roman catholic church which has been under construction for over 120 years) and marveled at the legacy that the architect, Antoni Gaudí, left behind.

If you have ever wondered why visual media is so important in digital marketing consider the work of these amazing creators.  Their artistry provides a visual demonstration of their view on life, but instead of describing their thoughts with words they show you with imagery and allow you to extract your own meaning.  Although marketers typically strive to be clear with their messaging, perhaps we should consider experimenting with a little mystery in our visuals so that our viewers have reason to pause.

There is No Place Like Home

Traveling to a country where you are mostly ignorant of the language and societal norms is a humbling experience.  Watching my children struggle with the french way of greeting (air kissing both cheeks) and ordering food from menus they could not read reminded me of a blog post I wrote a few months ago exploring whether it is necessary to have both a social media presence and a website.

Like traveling, social media provides us with a way to reach out to the world.  It expands our reach and allows us to explore different ways of doing things.  It is wonderful and exciting but we are not at home and we can be deported at any time.  By all means, participate in the various social channels but do not neglect your primary home – your corporate website.  This is the hub from which you can safely explore the world of social media.  You control the rules and your content stays where you leave it.  There is no place like home.

2 thoughts on “Digital Marketing Reminders Gained from a European Vacation

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  1. Another excellent post and reminder. Thank you. I was recently on vacation in Framce with my family too, and had a similar thought and profound experience at The Louvre Museum in Paris. I was looking at the famous painting, The Mona Lisa, from various angles, and she was looking back at me with a slightly different look from each position I stood from. I thought, similarly, that in business, if my message remained clear but not too descriptive (in my case, specifically outlining my exact customer and what I believed their needs were, then my customer could choose in based on their reasoning. For example, my company’s product price is low and fair and some consumers may choose my product for this reason, but if I blast low prices ONLY in my website messaging and social media, I will have not spoken to those consumers that love the fair price, but Moreso buy my product for the rich flavor options or even those that secondarily enjoy that it’s Fair Trade. I appreciate your reminder so very much as I’m currently overhauling how we reach and communicate with and engage our consumers. Our customers need the data (dragnet, joe Friday style: “just the facts, ma’am”) but not the narrowly-focused, reasons by which I believe they should be my customer. As the French say, vive la différence! I appreciate your sound advice and reminder…in fact, I think I’ll use this as another reason to take a vacation and unplug, to come back at it with an even fresher perspective! A big air kiss to you and yours! Can’t wait for your next post!!! Hopefully it has something to do with needing to take a month in a farmhouse in Italy to gain perspective on how better to relax and reach your customer. 🙂

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    1. Ah, yes, the Mona Lisa! Another great example. You make a good point about being careful with your messaging. Fair pricing for a quality product will speak for itself. I love your suggestion for my next vacation too!

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