I sell writing and digital strategy in order to broaden and enhance my clients’ web presence in an online marketing ecosystem.

The truth is, most people — my clients and yours included — don’t want web presence.

They want money — or at least the access to safety, health, well-being and the pleasures money helps us acquire.

When you sit down with a client and get into the brass tacks of Google Authorship and how that will help their SEO, you find that online marketing generally amounts to the following:

  • Foreign to most people
  • All about acronyms
  • At least a bit abstract
  • Not easy to relate to
  • Just one more thing [and]
  • Overall, makes for bad conversation

Educating clients (and vendors or collaborators) about internet marketing and digital strategy without boring or overwhelming them can throw anyone for a loop.


Because online marketing is:

  • Situational
  • Complex and
  • Iterative

Most clients do not understand online marketing and, truth be told, many of the vendors and collaborators you work with often won’t, either.

As I’ve mentioned in this blog before, designers make things pretty, programmers build,and usability/accessibility experts help everyone easily and efficiently use websites, but a digital marketing agency should be able to add value in each of these categories.

Most business owners don’t really care how things work. They simply want them to work well.

Show and tell comes in handy, though, when you’re trying to sell clients on things that aren’t easy to understand.

Online Marketing Ecosystem

I like the analogy of an ecosystem. Wikipedia calls it…

“A community of living organisms (plants, animals, microbes) in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environments (things like air, water and mineral soil), interacting as a system.”
The internet is definitely a community of living organisms (nerds, normal people, and teenagers) who are interacting with nonliving components (yes, an iPhone is a nonliving component) that interact as a system (you can’t have the internet without people and nowadays fewer and fewer people can comfortably get along without the internet).

To further refine the analogy, let’s take a common example.

You’ve heard of apples, right?

Apples Are Money

Let’s use an apple orchard analogy to explain online marketing.

In this analogy, apples equal money (Remember? That’s the thing clients really want when they are buying web presence and the online marketing that makes web presence possible.).

Ultimately, when you run an orchard, what you want is profit — not actually apples. You choose apples to generate profits because, for whatever reason, you didn’t choose internet marketing.

Or running a laundromat. Or, you know — whatever it is that pays your rent.

Online Marketing is an Apple Orchard

Consider the apple orchard.

Here’s a list of apple orchard elements and their corollaries in the world of internet marketing:

anna colibri, web presence, online marketing ecosystem, values based marketing

**I covered conversion funnels in previous blog post. Check it out!

Now you know how online marketing is like an apple orchard.

How Do You Like Them Apples?

The biggest difference between selling apples for money and selling web presence for money is that, while you can use web presence to sell apples, you cannot use apples to sell web presence (unless you know a really hungry marketer!).

Next Steps

Next week, using my own business as an example, I will cover how to divvy web presence into discrete packages you can sell.

Pro Tip. There are typically three kinds of clients: those who want to do it themselves, those who want guidance as they do it and those who want you to do it for them.

Your Turn

Can you think of ways to build on — or critique — this apple orchard to online marketing ecosystem analogy? Share your ideas in the comments, and don’t forget to sign up for your free digital marketing strategy session!

It’s fun 🙂