Thursday, September 24, 2009

Direct Response and Brand Marketing in the New Media

I picked up the link to David Carter’s blog post from Twitter yesterday. Truth to tell, I followed it because it mentioned NEMOA, the New England Mail Order Association which numbers among its members some of the best catalogers on the planet, also a lot of old friends. I was interested to see what was going on, and David’s slideshow focuses on what he learned from them; you’ll find it interesting.

I had a major “wish I’d said that” moment when I saw this graphic. David is a hard-headed social media marketer, and his “not a replacement strategy” warning is a good one. But what really struck me is that this says it all. Social media is a creature of the web, although it simply enables some physical world phenomena like Word of Mouth. Direct response, the province of the people at NEMOA, has been around for quite awhile. So has branding. What’s fascinating is that direct marketing and brand marketing take place, in similar ways, on and off the web. This is what marketers do—it really does say it all!

This morning’s article by Augustine Fou in ClickZ takes it a step further. Dr. Fou is proposing a new definition of digital that blurs the nice neat lines in David’s graphic. It’s a broad definition; "the collection of habits and expectations of modern users." Here is a summary of his major points:

Branding Is Dead
However, consumer habits have also evolved. Many people actively search for things online. And the moment they type in a search term or phrase, we know exactly what they're looking for at that exact moment in time.

While it’s true that traditional brand marketing in mass media has decreasing relevance on an almost day-by-day basis, brand development is still hugely relevant. It’s just done differently

Targeting Is Dying
As consumer habits change to "pulling" for information when they want or need it, marketers' tactics must also change. Tactics that fall under the umbrella of "push" marketing become less relevant because fewer modern users will tolerate being beaten over the head with ad messages.

Dr. Fou’s point is that people almost always start with search when they’re looking for information on the web, and that’s absolutely true. However, think about the post about McKinsey content last week; they are using Web 2.0 techniques for distributing content. Is that push? I’d say it is, but it’s either permission-based or very polite or both. No beating over the head here!

Social Media Isn't Media
. . .trying to use social networks and social actions as media won't work. Conversations can't be bought. And if they are bought, the community will find out and retaliate.

He concludes that marketers who get it “will gravitate toward techniques that cultivate genuine and open dialogue with customers, where brands humbly listen and learn, and then respond with new features and innovations.”

I totally agree. But I’d add that marketers still need to understand, and properly use, the three disciplines of marketing in David’s bubble chart. Direct response, often PPC these days, can be used to bring people to your site—which had better give them the information they are looking for and allow them to efficiently conclude a transaction (direct response) if they desire. Brand marketing still has great relevance—think all the “who do you trust” discussions. People you know and other consumers come first on the trust list. Brands (I’d include the adjective “trusted”) follow closely. Creating a trusted brand should be the overriding goal of brand marketing these days.

Where the lines really blur is between brand marketing, still a necessity, and social media marketing—more and more the way savvy marketers are doing brand marketing—as Dr. Fou said.

The disciplines are still there; the way marketers execute has undergone a huge shift.


Nancy Nevin said...

Very interesting articles as this whole new marketing strategy evolves real-time. I would argue that targeting is not dying and that the use of Web 2.0 tools allows marketers to target with even more precision...think "The Long Tail" by Chris Anderson. The challenge for organizations is not to simply distribute content, but to create content that has value. If your brand is recognized as an 'expert', or if you're giving away 'expert content', customers will come to you. That's different than just flooding web pages with feature filled content.

MaryLou Roberts said...

Is that another way of saying "trusted content > trusted brand?" I think so! Thanks, Nancy!!