Think back to those silly class presentations you did in high school, or those shallow speeches you crafted for your Communications 101 class in college. Totally worthless? Well, a series of experiences this week has reminded me of their importance.

It wasn't the content of those slideshows and persuasive presentations that mattered; rather, it was the experience of standing in front of an audience to communicate important ideas that made the difference. Or at least it should have.

Communication skills matter in business. And they certainly matter for those in the business of selling and carrying out online marketing and advertising. In fact, I argue communications skills are paramount to success in the digital domain because of the need to boil complex concepts down to simple sauce. That is to say, all the data in the world is meaningless to a Manager of Communications & Marketing, a Store Manager or a Small Business Owner if they can't understand what it means in simple terms. What good is a spreadsheet full of CTRs and .0007s if the recipient of that Excel file doesn't know the difference between CPAs and Keyword Contextual impressions?

Allow me to illustrate.

I recently spoke with a client who had been sold a complex digital advertising campaign by a well-intentioned seller. The campaign itself, although every campaign can always be better, was a good one. All parties involved – from the seller, to the buyer, to the fulfilment company - were honest, ethical, likable people. Unfortunately, the missing parts to the relationship were the same things that seemingly always destroy a marriage: lack of understanding and communication.

In this case, the seller didn't have a clear understanding of the product they sold, and the buyer was overwhelmed by the mountain of data that came back in the monthly reports. How could they make a determination on the efficacy of the campaign if they didn't know how to interpret the lines and columns in the spreadsheet into something intelligible?

Now, think about how my story relates to your high school speech project or your college communications class. What grade would you have received if you sent an email (or a hand-written letter in my days) to your professor that contained nothing more than a list of your research sources? That is, unfortunately, what many sellers are doing to their clients by forwarding "reports" generated by algorithms without any insight into what they mean. My point is simple: data is a commodity; understanding what the data means is the valuable pearl in online marketing and advertising.


*My next blog post will touch on the importance of strong customer service - both in-person and online. It, like this one, will be based on one of my recent interactions.

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