Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Direction of Marketing: Some Ideas to Ponder for the New Year

Maybe it's the holidays . . . maybe it's the specific projects that we're engaged in right now . . . but I'm sensing a real change in the direct marketing landscape. Don't get me wrong, as we discussed yesterday, we're still struggling with finding the ultimate solutions for many of the same problems of the past 10 years, too. However, I sense a change in the proverbial marketing weather.

And, apparently I'm not alone in this thinking. As a matter of fact, in a recent post from James Cherkoff, Director at Collaborative Marketing in the UK, he outlines what he sees as this changing landscape. Here are Cherkoff’s thoughts: “Lots of the ideas that seemed radical a few years ago are now accepted as the norm. And many disruptive trends are now presumed to be long-term change. For instance, the idea that television must be reinvented or die is hardly worth the breath and, hey, did you know people don't like interruptive marketing? Search (aka The Database of Intentions) is now more than just a handy function but the way we organise our lives. Also, now that everyone is joined up outside of traditional institutions, it's clear that people regard peers as the purest form of accurate information.” We've definitely seen this to be the case -- particularly this year with the huge expansion and adoption of social media.

It’s not all about online-marketing though. Traditional direct marketing ideas are also being challenged. Our clients are consistently trying to improve their DM campaigns through the use of analytics and more precise targeting. While the use of intelligent analytical methods has been in place for many years now, direct marketers are getting smarter about how to apply analytics to the “right” data source to most effectively reach the most responsive audiences.

Meanwhile, database marketers are requiring more flexible database solutions to house their customer and prospect data. They are also requiring more intelligent analytical tools to better mine the data within their databases. Database solutions providers are struggling to change their paradigm of how to keep up with these needs. We've found that in working with a lot of the database marketing giants, it is difficult -- if not darn near impossible -- to come up with a streamlined database solution that our clients can quickly implement and not spend a fortune on. Interestingly enough, even those companies who have the capabilities to provide the data, the database and the analytical tools can't see clear to providing integrated solutions without breaking the client's budget. So, we're always on the lookout for a nimble and flexible provider in this industry that can meet our client needs -- and exceed our expectations. And this requirement is not going away . . . it is what the customer will continue to demand.

Finally, the idea that there is some sort of "norm" out there for a marketing strategy is just dead wrong. The only consistent factor that we've seen is that the landscape is constantly shifting. Our clients are consistently changing direction and areas of focus with the changing economy. And, this seems to be the case across industries. As we consult with our clients, it has become an exercise of starting from a blank page and crafting an idea of the strategy to go forward with -- but never carving anything in stone.

I guess the over-riding theme here is that as direct marketers, we need to possess the ability to be Gumby-like. We have to be flexible and fast. We need to be able to sense the change in the weather, and then respond to it with lightning-like speed. More than ever, being tuned in to your client's needs -- and really listening -- are the qualities that will create marketing success for us in 2008.


Anonymous said...

Has direct marketing turned into marketing throught the internet. The new Ford book - Ford and the American Dream by cLifton Lambreth says Detroit is desperate for trying anything right now!

Mr Carman said...

Marketing is getting tricky and high Tech!