Monday, February 20, 2006

Today’s decision makers have a lot to contend with.

When I look around the marketplace at the moment, I feel a lot of sympathy for decision makers inside client organisations. There is so much choice in the marketplace and yet in my view a lot of organisations are not helping their prospective clients make the right decisions and most of the reasons for that seem to me to be with the agencies themselves.

I'll explain what I mean by that. Agencies in the marketplace today are loosely split between traditional offline Advertising agencies and online media agencies.

Most (not all but definitely most) offline agencies see the web as an advertising medium. They offer campaigns designed to drive traffic to a point of sale or point of offer, however at that point their interest and skill set ends. They therefore offer extensions of their offline campaigns online.

Online media agencies tend to specialise in particular areas of the online world such as Search Marketing, Mobile Marketing, Web Design, Web Development etc. Their offer to clients tends to be tactical in nature. They therefore place the focus on soft issues such as brand presentation.

One of my big bug bears is that there seems to be a need to complicate the offers are and Interactive Media is starting to use as many acronyms as the computing industry. Hands up all those who think that is a bad idea. Every sales person and Account Director wants to push their own solution to the decision makers whilst decision makers themselves have very little information to go on in order to make the best choices for their campaigns.

Currently digital marketing is in vogue, but typically there will be one supplier knocking on the door and talking about SEO, and other one talking about SEM, a third asking about design and build and yet another talking about metrics and measurement. There are so called 'integrated' interactive agencies out there but its not an exaggeration to say that each one of them has its own definition of what 'integrated' actually means.

The problem is that very few metrics and processes are around to assess suitability of which interactive media will work with which campaigns and which products, and meanwhile the poor client has to make decisions on which their brands futures will rest.

This isn't an ideal situation and one which I would like to change. The marketing industry created an approach and a process for itself with the Marketing Mix, and it is long overdue that the Interactive Media industry did the same thing, and so Over the last few months I have been working on a process for interactive media agencies which I have called The Interactive Mix.

My observation is that Everybody is talking about technology and explaining how media works, and the questions they are asking are not designed to help the client:

Do you want a website?
Do you want a top Google listing?
Is your site optimised for search engines?
Have you heard of the benefits of email marketing?
Have you heard of the DDA?
Is Usability important to you?
Would you like a viral campaign?
Who is your mobile audience?
Who is your online audience?
Who is your interactive TV audience?
Can we show you what iTV does?
Would you like to have 5000 page impressions delivered?

Nobody is actually asking clients the important questions:

What do you want to achieve for your brand?
What ROI are you aiming for?
What is you target to increase sales this year?

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