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Marketers Must Change or Die but, even for Marketers, Change is Good

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If you’re a marketing company, advertising agency, or even an in-house marketing professional, you probably know what when the going gets tough in a company, you and your projects get axed first.  It ought NOT to be this way, but it is.

On the other side of the fence, which people CAN’T a company easily walk away from? It’s the computer-savvy IT-oriented people – the ones technical enough that, without them, no one has a clue how to run things.  These people have job security.

In light of the above, consider what happens when IT types and marketers must converge to build business-driving initiatives through online marketing and e-commerce.  Some marketers will run and hide.   And others, the ones who learn to work with it, and stick it out, will have power  – power to drive new business, and the metrics to back it up and keep their jobs.  Yeah!

I’m here in New York City learning about how the world of marketing has been completely turned on its ear as a result of the growing importance the internet.    Coming from Cowtown, Canada, I expected that most of top agency people here in the Big Apple would be well ahead of what we’re doing in little old Canada, but I’m quite surprised to discover that this is not the case.

Not one has yet shown how online metrics can be used to uncover competitive positions and build strategy.  No one has really cracked which kinds of content really drives business, or shown ways to generate it quickly and inexpensively.  Even a company specializing in market intelligence hadn’t heard of social media sentiment monitoring(?).  (I gave them Canadian-based Sysomos‘ name!) But I’ve got two days to go, so the jury’s still out.  Did I mention there are loads of people using Blackberry phones here (yay Canada)?

While there are some very forward thinking speakers here, I was surprised to see that so far, not many of the attendees were really deep into online integration yet.  So the coming days will tell where the Canucks stack up, and where we’ve got to go next.

The morning began with a fellow who goes by the title of “Digital Prophet” at AOL,  David “Shingy” Shing.  His appearance is the first thing that catches you – a young Asian fellow with hair spiked in every direction, black leather and high top sneakers with big yellow wings – a strong resemblance to Edward Scissorhands, actually.   But the second thing was the pace at which his presentation zinged by.  He went so fast, blasting through websites, technology, etc. that everyone just shut up, trying to catch as much  information as we could while it was all flying past.   Shingy whizzed by tons of interesting stats about user growth and endless examples of what a few elite tech-savvy digital agencies had accomplished before most of us knew what a hash tag was.

On the other hand, it was kind of neat to have a speaker give you a high-level taste of what was to come for the weekend, and the pace certainly added to the feeling of “gotta know this – yesterday!”

The overall message:  People don’t want to be pushed ads anymore, they want to interact and engage with your brand.   Whether you take a print or billboard ad and create an “augmented reality” element, get people to use a QR Code to scratch and win, tag your images with “Stipple” content, or simply write good blogs so that you stimulate meaningful online conversations, the direction is clear:  Marketers must go beyond  “brand awareness” and get people into an experience that connects them and excites them to want to share it, and come back for more. 

Yes, it’s difficult for most companies to learn this, at least quickly.  However, if we do it, we have an opportunity to really take that interaction, and grab that data off of it as never before – and use it to prove that it’s working, vital and valuable.

The model, as I see it, is like this:

And even without the initial “Reality” interaction, the point is that when you get an online interaction, you get data, and the data gives you the GOLD:  proof of what’s working and what’s not.  And as long as you get it right, the proof is a positive thing!

So as marketers, we should see this as a good thing:  Don’t learn it, and get early retirement.  Or learn it, and get a serious chance at job security.

I’d write more, but I now have about 15 web sites I’ve gotta look at NOW!!  Stay tuned for more blogging and tweeting  in the coming days!

What are your thoughts?  I’d love to hear from you!

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About the Author - Jacqueline Drew
Jacqueline M. Drew, BComm, MBA is founder and CEO of Tenato Strategy Inc., a marketing research and strategy firm with bases in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto. With over 25 years' experience in all facets of marketing strategy, she is a business consultant, trainer and speaker who loves to use her superpowers "to help the good guys win."