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The difference between online and offline

February 24, 2014

The internet offers the ability to order things in just about any conceivable manner.
Real life doesn’t. Take your typical grocery story. The “order” is dictated by physics. Produce is over here. Can food there. Cereal in this aisle. There’s a science in the order of things, and milk is in the back left because people make right turns, so the store wants to pull you to the right, even if you want to just get milk. That said, milk can’t appear in more than one place.

Online however, things aren’t constrained by physics.

July's Tomato Haul

July’s Tomato Haul (Photo credit: statelyenglishmanor)

Online, there isn’t a need for order. We don’t need “files” or “folders”. Those are real world things demanded by the requirement to put things in places. Online, things are merely 0’s and 1’s and computers don’t need an elaborate hierarchy to find them.

That’s why at grocery.com (a made up place), canned tomatoes can be tagged with ‘tomatoes, canned, vegetable, canned food, camping, staples, pasta, crock pot,  etc. In fact, there’s no limitation on how to tag the tomatoes – and since a tag is the offline equivalent of a place (ie, where you go to find it), the more things you tag the tomatoes with, the better chance people will find them in a search.

In the real world, the grocery store guesses and uses shopping carts to strategically placed to get you walking around (and some, like Wegmans, I think purposefully crate alleys that get you lost).

On the internet, things are way more miscellaneous. Don’t think of your content as being one thing for one person in one place (as one would a can of tomatoes). Online, the can be the beginning of a killer crock pot recipe, the start of a great pasta, or just a can of tomatoes.

When putting together a marketing plan, perhaps it’s time to consider ‘how will our target market find this information?”

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3 Comments leave one →
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