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The Right Way to Promote Digital Marketing

2011 November 9

Clients often ask, “How can we get our organization to buy into digital marketing?”  It’s a very telling question for two reasons.

Firstly, it underlines that, even at this point in the game, many big organizations have not bought in.  Secondly, it implies that digital marketing is somehow separate from regular marketing, and that a cultural divide is the reason for slow adoption.

Organizations adopt marketing strategies for one reason and one reason only:  They see value to their business.  For digital marketers to be successful, we must be able to address standard marketing problems, rather than lament that clients aren’t far-sighted enough to see the new possibilities.  The onus is on us, not them.

Building Awareness

Getting people to know your product is the first step towards making them an active consumer.  Although impulse purchases happen, it is usually for low involvement categories with thin profit margins.  People like to buy what they know.

That simple fact accounts for the incredible success of TV.  For half a century, it has been the mainstay of marketers because there is simply no better way to get a marketing message out quickly, cheaply and effectively.  While many digital advocates like to denegrate TV’s value, it’s share of ad spending has actually increased since 1995.

So, the question isn’t whether digital marketing will replace TV, but how digital can augment and improve TV.

As I described in an earlier post, some ways are obvious, like pre-roll video on established sites that can help reach light TV viewers and cable cutters.  Others, such as online narratives, like the classic Audi “Car Heist” campaign shown below, take a bit more effort and creativity.

The Point of Purchase

One area where interactive media has always had a clear application is direct marketing and, in fact, that’s where it has disrupted the media industry, creating devastation among newspapers but, despite the all the talk, leaving everything else almost untouched.

Yet, here there is a problem: e-commerce represents only about 4% of retail sales and won’t gain a significant share for decades.  Marketers, not surprisingly, are far more concerned with the other 96% percent and often don’t see a compelling reason to invest the time, money and effort to revamp their entire organization.

That’s changing as mobile marketing gains traction.  Some services, like mobile circulars, are simply digital versions of old methods that have been proven effective for decades. However, new services such as Placecast and Shopkick, as well as mobile apps from major retailers like Target and Wal-mart, are changing the face of in-store marketing.

Driving Loyalty and Advocacy

Probably the biggest opportunity for marketers in the digital space is in the areas of loyalty and advocacy.  Like mobile marketing, many of the efforts are electronic versions of old analog efforts, such as retailers e-mailing special offers to customers in their database. Nevertheless, here too there is much that is new and different.

For instance, Louis Vuitton has a Facebook app that lets consumers customize their products and buy them online.  Kraft’s ifood assistant puts cooking tips and recipes at their customers’ fingertips and the North Face’s trailhead app gives valuable information to the outdoor adventurers who use their products.

Again, the important thing to take note of is that these ideas aren’t new, brands such as Harley Davidson have a long history of building strong, vibrant communities.  However, the enhanced capabilities that digital makes possible are far too substantial to ignore.  The consumer lifestyle is increasingly digital and brands need to be too.

Finally, although we always knew that word-of-mouth existed and that it was important, we couldn’t measure or track it.  Social listening and advances in natural language processing are making community marketing less an act of faith and more a serious activity.

The Productivity Paradox

So with all of this great new stuff, why the difficulty with getting buy-in?  If digital marketing is so fantastic, why should anybody need any convincing?  Shouldn’t they immediately adopt what is so clearly good for their business?  Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

First of all, as I’ve argued many times before in this blog, new stuff is crappy.  We don’t have much experience making it or using it.  Secondly, no technology exists in a vacuum but is part of an ecosystem, that works in conjunction with back-end capabilities, people trained to implement it and complementary technology.  That takes time to develop.

Lastly, it’s important to have perspective.  Digital marketing accounts for about 15% of overall marketing spend, so businesses will understandably put more focus on the other 85%.  However, in a competitive marketplace, 15% is far too large to ignore and, ceteris paribus, can itself represent a sustainable competitive advantage.

For those who have fallen behind, the best place to start is to apply new marketing capabilities to old marketing challenges.

– Greg

2 Responses
  1. November 27, 2011

    Very interesting post and especially to talk about loyalty. It’s one of they key points in modern Marketing.

    Thank you for sharing!

    Greg Reply:

    Glad you liked it Abel!

    – Greg

Comments are closed.