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Alan Charlesworth: profile
I have been described by others as both an expert and guru in my subject.
However, I still think of myself as a student of Digital Marketing. Why?
Because I learn new things about it every day, and if you are still learning
you are a student. If I am an expert, I am only an expert in what I already know.
And we are all experts in what we know ... aren't we? If I have risen up the digital hill, it is to see ...
not to be seen.
So why am I sometimes considered an expert in Digital Marketing? Well, I've been involved
in Internet-related marketing in
either practical, training, research or academic roles since 1996, and I have written
on the subject. So ... expert or just more experienced than most?
I work in higher education, but I'm not really an academic - I do not, for example, have a string of
academic papers to my name [OK, there is one on domain names, but it was in a now-defunct journal], nor do I attend academic conferences or
present papers at them.
It was in the period '96 to '99 that I got involved with this Internet malarkey, working with what was then a very
- but one that grew to be much bigger. This was practical e-commerce at the sharp end, learning about the new communications
medium and its impact on business - and society - as we went along. For example, I know a lot about domain names simply because
I advised [and still do] so many organizations on what name to register and
I know the basics of search engine optimization because I spent hours trying to get a domain name registration website
to the top of the likes of Hotbot, Excite, Alta Vista and the other pre-Google search engines.
Also during that period I spent a lot of time [oh yes, a lot of time] in front of Business Clubs, Chambers of Commerce, industry bodies, management forums,
in-house company seminars and the like 'preaching' about
Internet technology and how organizations must be ready for its coming - and then later, how to best match the potential of that technology with the needs
of the organization and its customers.
Indeed, at that time although I was being paid for practicing marketing on the Internet, I spent more time passing on my learning on the impact
of the Internet on business in general. As a result of this I was well placed to write a book on the Key Concepts in e-Commerce [in 2007 we used
the term e-commerce in the same way that we use digital now] - only around half of which addressed marketing issues.
In turn, this publication meant that I was in the position to write a book on the Digital Revolution - that is; the impact of digital technology on
organizations and how they might take advantage of the so-called digital revolution. As the the Digital Revolution evolved/morphed into the
Digital Transformation around 2012 it was a natural progression for me become involved in telling business folk about the looming implications of the
likes of the Internet of Things [IoT], Artificial Intelligence [AI], Virtual Reality [VR] and Augmented Reality [AR].
At this point, it is worth mentioning - no, emphasizing - that I am not a computer scientist. I am actually bordering on being computer illiterate.
Back in the day I used to deliver a talk called 'is that the on switch?' to stress that although I was introduced on to the stage as 'an Internet expert',
I knew nothing about how computers work. Since 1996 to whenever my last class/presentation/talk was I have made the point that I know how to use
the Internet/digital technology for business and marketing purposes - not how write the coding to make the software work. My analogy has always been
that logistics managers do not need to know the internal workings of a diesel engine, they need to know how that engine performs and how that performance impacts
on moving goods from one place to another.
For more on my issues with computer scientists [I use the term techies], take a glance at my musing
what is it with me and IT? and another issue closely related to it ... we have a problem with
non-marketers in digital marketing.
Since 1996 I have done more 'consultancy' than I care to remember. Recently, in answer to a question
raised by an event organizer for some publicity material, I did calculate [guess :-) ] a number of
more than 5,000 but less than 10,000 'consultancies' - that is anything from advice to a one-person start-up
to 'weak-link' strategic analysis for global brands and corporations. I am now in the fortunate position of
being able to pick and choose what I do ... but if you're interested, give me a shout.
Similarly, I have done more work-based learning with organizations than I care to remember - some of
it with managers and employees of brands that would be familiar to most folk.
By way of self-promotion [isn't that what this page is all about?] I am one of only a very few people to have
published more than one book in this field of study - and the only one to have written those books as sole-author.
Perhaps that makes me an
Some people seem to think so, including Aaron Goldman, author of the best-selling 'Everything I Know about Marketing I Learned From Google' -
I was one of the
he reached out to when writing the book. He went so far as to refer to me as a
I think he is over-stating things.
A final point is that my profession is teaching; digital marketing is more of a hobby - my books being researched and written in my spare time.
My students will tell you I'm a passionate teacher - and people tend to be passionate about things
they do in their spare time. So when you can combine your profession with your hobby ...