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Marketing technologist speaks at SMC

Modern digital marketing careers combine creativity, technology and analytics, Elmer Boutin told Southwestern Michigan College business students Oct. 2. “Don’t get me wrong,” Boutin said. “There’s still a need for creative writers and artists, but it’s amazing how much data is generated.” Boutin, who knows SMC Dean of Arts and Sciences Dr. Scott Topping from the Army, directs organic search for GTB.

Boutin has worked in digital marketing for more than 20 years, since AltaVista was the leading search engine, coding web sites and managing online reputation as both independent contractor and corporate webmaster.

“Modern digital marketing is a little bit of everything,” he said. “You have to be a jack of all trades. With the exception of coders, who are in great demand, they’re hybrid careers. David Murphy, GTB U.S. president, said, ‘I love working in advertising because we get to work at the intersection of business and everything imaginable.’”

Search engine optimization (SEO) “is the art and science of making web sites so search engines can figure out what they’re about and help connect web site content with people looking for that information,” Boutin said. “Google and Bing especially look at how fast your web site downloads on a mobile device.”

Spread sheets were the first “killer app.”

Launched in 1979 for Apple II computers, VisiCalc “launched desktop computing into the business world. VisiCalc was eclipsed by (1983’s) Lotus 1-2-3, which was eclipsed by Microsoft Excel.”

On Aug. 6, 1991, British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee without fanfare launched the first website while working at CERN, the huge particle physics lab in Switzerland.

“He came up with this idea of sharing information using hypertext,” Boutin said. “It’s amazing how far we’ve come in a short amount of time.”

Marketing technologists inhabit a landscape exploding from 150 software providers in 2011 to more than 5,000 by 2017.

“Not only is this a growing business,” Boutin said, “but there are opportunities for people like you interested in getting into marketing and advertising. At any given time at GTB there are 70-80 open positions they’re trying to fill. In the analytics group I work in there are 20.”

“Even though the world is very technical,” Boutin said, “there’s still a huge demand for creative folks, such as graphic designers who can do artistic stuff. But that’s digital, too. Very few do compositions on paper anymore. It’s done on tablets using Adobe tools like Photoshop.

“There’s also a huge need for writers. Many people I know who are successful in marketing have advanced English degrees because storytelling is an important part of connecting people to product and services information.”

“The advertising funnel does not work the way it used to,” Boutin said. “People bounce around in purchase decisions until they get to what Google calls the zero moment of truth, where they’re actually ready to make a purchase. Used to be, you could buy TV or radio time, shout out a message and influence them to purchase stuff, but today’s savvy consumers are not going to listen to you, they’re going online to research. Ninety-two percent of consumers read online reviews before doing business.”

Boutin explained search with an example of what most people know as a motorcycle kickstand, but the industry calls a sidestand.

The latter is searched 650 times per month, compared to 2,390 for the former, so “you’d want to optimize the web site to search for both,” as Logan Harris answered.

“Online reputation management is the proactive set of steps a business can use to have a positive reputation. The problem is a lot of people wait until they have a crisis before they start caring about their reputation. As my Dallas buddy, Tony Wright, says, ‘Trying to deal with your reputation when you’re having a crisis is like trying to eat healthy when you’re having a heart attack,’” Boutin said.

“‘United breaks guitars always’ comes up as a case study how not to do online reputation management,” he said. “A gentleman flying from Halifax to Chicago watched baggage handlers destroy his $2,000 guitar. He recorded a song. The YouTube video has 17,658,000 views. United’s woes did not stop there. Several months ago you heard about the doctor dragged off an overbooked flight. I’m sure United is a fine airline, but you find this kind of stuff in search results.”

“If you apply for a job,” Boutin said, “the first thing the hiring manager does is Google you. Your personal brand could be disqualified by what you put online.”

Boutin was joined by GTB recruiter Bailey Pratt.

GTB (Global Team Blue), operating 49 offices across six continents, resulted last year from rebranding Team Detroit, the Dearborn media company handling Ford Motor Co. advertising.