The popular saying used to be, “..you know you’re getting old when policemen start looking young”, well I’ve got a new one that provides a constant reminder that my pepper-grey hair is more than just a fashion statement..
Watching many of the digital agencies and brands handle their marketing plans is akin to the clumsy fumbling around of teenagers at the school disco. You remember when you used to be ‘just like that’, but wonder why nobody ever seems to learn from your early mistakes.
Believe it or not, digital marketing as a field of expertise is not as ‘new’ as some people like to think – as with any industry there were people cutting their teeth in this area well before it became popular, but as with any career those same people have gone on to bigger things, taking their knowledge with them.
I’ve spoken with a few agency directors in recent years and two of the most frustrating notions I see are; the belief that the sector is so immature that nobody is more qualified than any other – mistakes are made but that’s just part of learning . Secondly the continued fragmentation of the agency/client relationship with specialist teams operating around niche services leads to a lack of holistic oversight and a huge wastage of marketing bandwidth. Of course some brands do make it a requirement of their agencies to work together, but truthfully, when has that every truly worked even when those agencies reside under the same corporate umbrella?
Most brands continue to separate print campaigns from digital and when these campaigns conclude the content created is archived, but some of the material is actually quite engaging – it just needs to be captured within a storyboard and repurposed digitally. The field of customer relationship marketing (CRM) learned during the past few ‘decades’ that success is borne through integrating customer conversations across all channels, presenting a uniform face and personalising contact, but how many Twitter or Facebook channels do you see which state the name(s) and contact details of the people managing the channel? No wonder people switch off..
Another reason why PRs lose the attention of the audiences following them on Twitter or Facebook is that they broadcast brand-centred messages, rather than inform, engage, entertain and reflect the activities of their audience – it’s like having a friend who only talks about themselves.
PRs are skilled in the dissemination of information to 3rd parties (most often publishers), whose job thereafter is to transform the information into something people might wish to read. So why are we surprised when the direct engagement between PRs and customers fails to succeed? And why aren’t brands using more story-tellers and broadcasters, whose core competence is in capturing and engaging audiences?
Many agencies continue to reinvent the wheel when it comes to relationship marketing and digital engagement, and whilst they do so the rate at which lessons are learned and reapplied will be very slow.