The downside of doing the corporate “Let’s throw it up against the blogging wall to see what sticks” approach to digital marketing


I come from a simpler marketing time.


As David Meerman Scott explained in his recent book, The New Rules of Marketing & PR, I was one of those cool agency folks who, “…sit in hip offices dreaming up ways to interrupt people so that they pay attention to a one-way message”.


I worked at a large ad agency (NWAyer) on accounts like DeBeers – diamonds is forever, AT&T – Reach out and touch someone and I even got to bring back Punchy of Hawaiian Punch fame when P&G bought the brand in the 1980s.


They were simpler days because marketing was able to be planned. You wanted “awareness” there were relatively few ways to do it and it costs money. Lots of it.


And so we cool agency folks became insulated and complacent. I remember when “Prodigy” did a major presentation at the agency and people bet on how fast it would fail (if you know what Prodigy is – please raise your hand and email me. If you don’t – never mind). My agency colleagues were only half right. Prodigy did fail – but the concept of connectivity lived on to what we now know and love as the Internet.


Now however, a corporate marketing exec type has to integrate traditional media with all these emerging concepts and make sense of it. Worse, any program he does now involves legions of people NOT from marketing. A corp marketing exec needs people from development and database management and web deployment teams and on and on. Gone are the “one department decision/ deployment” days.  


And if that wasn’t enough – agencies that know digital marketing tend to be run by twenty something’s who are just bigger kids just with bigger toys. They never had to stand in front of the CEO or CFO and explain why you needed another $50,000 to talk to people who aren’t even reporters!


Well it’s enough to make any corp marketing exec cry. I know because enough of my friends are in those roles and they come crying to me.


But there’s hope.


The trick now is for companies to find ways to plan these programs within predictable parameters just like a good old fashioned media plans because corporate budget are not known to be nimble. “But wait”, I hear you say, “viral IS UNPREDICTABLE”. The paradox of social marketing is that it often catches you unprepared and by the time you get your budget act together, well, your moment is gone.


The way to manage that within a corporate environment is to create a platform that organizes content distribution (which is the heart and soul of digital marketing) across media within a “campaign” model. Rather than throwing lots of social marketing toys onto the scene to see what sticks, plan campaigns around content distribution and key phrases that coordinate across functions – SEM, PR, article syndication and so forth within a specific timeframe that can be planned. This approach won’t cover all unexpected activities, but it beats trying to get any CFO to warm up to the idea of spending $50K so you can have a presence on Facebook.


Trust me – it ain’t pretty.


Judy Shapiro  

3 Responses

  1. Hi Judy,

    What an awesome post. It’s so refreshing to hear someone with an agency background write this effectively about the transformation going on today. I know Prodigy. Yes, they failed, but the thing they and a few others (like AOL) pioneered — the Web — is revolutionary. And because companies can create content ourselves and post it for free online, we can do without advertising agencies. Some agencies get this. Most do not.

    Take care, David

  2. Thanks David.

    The CEO of our software company (Comodo) bought your book and distributed it within the marketing department. Your book was very much confirmation of our strategy – be in the conversation how, where and when your customers are — old media, new media whatever.

    In fact at Comodo, part of our strategy is to publish 2 release every week (yep – I write ’em because I could not find a pr agency who would crank out that many for any budget that a normal company can afford)) . My PR friends called that “PR SPAM”. I endured their chides for a while until I told them that after about 18 months of this type of effort we built a base of millions of users of our security software without spending a penny on banner ads or other “traditional” outreach.

    Now they want to know how we did it :).

    Your book does a great job of helping people understand that the art of marketing (and it is more science than art) is about staying current with and in tune with your customers. Customers are using new media and you had better be there when they get there.

    Staying close to your customers has been the cornerstone of every successful marketer. That notion has not changed — just now there are lots more fun ways to stay connected.

    And isn’t that what the internet is all about.

  3. […] – bookmarked by 4 members originally found by scwhitmore on 2008-07-22 The downside of doing the corporate “Let’s throw it up against… – bookmarked by 4 members originally found by […]

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