Marketing Magazine Article: Don’t lose your roots

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14th June, 2009

I was asked by Marketing Magazine Australia to write an article for the June addition. Below is the story that was published.

‘DON’T LOSE YOUR ROOTS’

Executive Director of digital innovation Clemenger Group, Adam Good, implores direct marketers not to lose their hard working discipline when thinking digital.

With the dramatic rise of digital in marketing both as a standalone communication idea and as the central plank of an integrated campaign, it’s important that hard working direct discipline is not lost out to the flirtatious marketing planning called engagement. Direct marketers please stand up and listen your clients need you.

Direct marketing is defined as marketing that is focused on driving purchases that can be attributed to a specific call to action. This marketing discipline includes any medium that allows you to communicate directly with customers via a variety of channels both online and off.

Engagement marketing on the other hand is a strategy that invites and encourages consumers to participate in the evolution of a brand. Rather than looking at consumers as passive receivers of messages, engagement thinking is that consumers should be actively involved in the production and co-creation of marketing programs.

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Marketing Magazine Australia June Edition

Ultimately, engagement marketing attempts to connect more strongly consumers with brands by "engaging" them in a dialogue and two-way, cooperative interaction.
While you could say, and direct marketers do, that direct requires engagement planning. I on the other think it’s important that the main focus of any good direct marketer is to increase the number of customers that respond to your client’s marketing campaign or "response rate".

If engagement planning helps to do this than fine, but don’t let it cloud your primary objectives or your discipline, or your clients might wonder what you are doing on their business as part of an integrated agency team.

While digital has now become the preferred toolkit to help create and deliver compelling involving marketing programs at both brand and direct agencies. It has caused some confusion with clients on who owns digital thinking when working with both direct or brand focused agencies?

In my mind digital is now becoming disciplined and by that I mean it has stopped being owned by any particular agency and is absorbed into and applied for engagement (brand), customer experience (events both online and off), relationship management (direct) retail (ecommerce/point of sale) reputation management (PR) and so on.

With this digital trend I have seen blade running innovative direct marketers, looking much deeper into what digital offers, exploring the outer limits of finding ways to move messages to sales. Good direct marketers are finding that expanding their digital channel usage beyond email and web sites it has enabled the opportunity to create ideas that have conversations with consumers that lead to a sale. Is this engagement, no it’s good direct thinking.

Creative direct market professional are now adding components and features to the idea that embrace digital technology and use the connected network to give consumers and their social communities a message, a conversation, an experience that can influence how the brand is accepted and adapted into consumer’s lives and then lead them to a sale or an event of value that is measured.

While digital gives marketers a no rules creative canvas to play on, it is a complex environment. So it’s best to have some creative people focused on direct and data thinking, and other creative people focused on engagement and experience thinking. If you try to have a brand or direct agency do both more often than not something becomes unstuck in the crafting or worse dropped as key piece of a successful marketing program.

I personally feel designing a successful direct marketing campaign means developing a marketing campaign that speaks directly to your potential customer’s wants and needs will mean the difference between creating quality sales leads for your client’s business or utter frustration at a lack of customer responsiveness. Client’s want someone in an integrated team to understand this and be accountable for the sale.

Direct agencies are best positioned to deliver sales and to continue the growth of digital data as marketing moves away from a produce and deploy campaign approach, to a structure much closer aligned to a world of create, manage, monitor and respond. I also believe it will also move to a real time delivery within the next five years so again direct agencies need to work out how this can be done.

With this I see the new successful direct mangers and leaders as people who can manage audience involvement to get to a sale. Great direct agencies of the future will be the ones to create more layers and conversation points. They will craft programs that build intrigue, interest and deliver targeted messages across multiply digital devices and access channels that is managed and monitored daily.

Monitoring communication daily offers clients some great benefits that give’s the addressability and accountability of marketing all key discipline traits that direct agencies need to focus on with clients. It enables the targeting of individuals, the ability to personalize messages, track each event of value and give much more accurate measurement of an advertisement’s impact.

Brands will always be about big ideas, but it’s important to note with more digital programs being created and deployed to a connected audience requires focus. It means direct agencies will need to make some adjustments to how they are structured and what parts of the digital pie they focus on in the marketing mix. It’s certainly the most exciting time to be a direct marketing professional so stay firm to the direct discipline and you will become extremely important to your clients.

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