I  have been hearing from a lot of people on my post from Wednesday on new ways to train your team in digital marketing. I’ve gotten great feedback, but there was one comment that struck a nerve, when someone asked if anything about marketing and sales is the same as it was back before the InterWebs. I understand why people ask that question and I feel compelled to give an answer that is not the normal one for a digital marketing trainer. Most things are not any different than they were before. Most of what you knew then is still true. Marketing is still marketing.

I know, I know. Heretic! Blasphemer! I know that I am supposed to be this brandy-new social media guy who can introduce you to the brave new world. I mean, the more new and the scarier it is, the more you need the training, right? If I can scare you until you wet yourself then you’ll just have to hire me. At least that is how the thinking seems to go.

There are a couple of problems with that approach. One is that it isn’t exactly true. The other is that it isn’t very helpful to someone trying to adapt to all the changes.

You see, the dirty little secret of Internet marketing trainers is that Internet marketing is way more about marketing than about the Internet. I’ll prove it to you. If I gave you a choice for your next digital marketing czar–you can pick either an expert on the Internet or an expert on marketing, who do you want? As an ex-IT guy, I mean this kindly, but DON’T TAKE THE TECHNOLOGY GEEK.

Internet marketing isn’t about the Internet any more than radio advertising needs someone who understands the gigahertz of the FM band. Or the intricacies of audio recording. I’m not saying that such knowledge is useless–what I know about how search engines work clearly helps me in search marketing–but it is less important than understanding why customers search and what they are looking for.

And marketers already know a lot of what they need, if people would only explain it better. For example, search keywords are market segments. Yes, I know that the traditional marketer might not see that right away, but when I spend some time explaining it, then suddenly they know a dozen things they can do–they can see which keywords have the most loyal customers or the highest conversion rate or the highest order size. The reason they can quickly do that is because they already know how to compare market segments, so once they know what keywords are, then they can apply what they already know.

I’ve trained direct marketers in digital marketing in about three days. These people walk into class thinking they are dinosaurs and walk out ready to run rings around people who might be really good at Facebook but they don’t really understand how to measure response to a marketing message and what to do about it.

Sales people tell me they don’t know how to use social media to sell. Then I show them that every time their customer asks a question, they have a blog post. They can communicate with customers on LinkedIn every day without being annoying. And they get it.

I hope there isn’t anyone out there feeling defeated and old because they just don’t get this Internet stuff. I’m telling you that if you know marketing that you can know Internet marketing. You just need it explained based on what you know already, instead of being the brave new world. It ain’t.