Are you a marketing professional or an advertising professional?
The majority of marketing professionals that I meet aren't really marketing professionals at all. The majority of them are advertising professionals. While it's easy to confuse the two, the systematic ghettoization of Social Media and how Digital Marketing gets rolled into the more general advertising initiatives are clear indications that we're not taking the opportunity to do something truly unique all that seriously at all. In the end, we're still being asked about the ROI of Digital Media like it's an advertising campaign. And, the only reason we're being asked about it is because there needs to be some sort of CYA (cover your a**) move on the brand side in case someone higher up in the brand food chain wants to know why the television advertising spend was cut on an Excel chart.
This is a dis-service to Digital Marketing.
We're not only doing a dis-service to Digital Marketing at this point, we're lumping it in with the advertising budget. Marketing professionals need to wake up and realize that this is a marketing platform unto itself, and not just another space to toss ads at. Yes, you can do some great kinds of advertising in the digital channels (display advertising, search engine marketing, etc...). No, I'm not diminishing the power, growth and importance of online advertising (it truly is something to behold), but the real opportunity here (and now) is to leverage this amazing platform as an engine of marketing that compliments the advertising campaigns and helps to tell a better brand narrative.
Don't confuse Marketing and Advertising.
We tend to get lost in the values of yesterday and then measure it against a new channel and platform as if it's the same thing. Yes, a TV show that you can run an ad on is similar to a Facebook page where you can run an ad on. That is advertising and that can be done in the digital marketing channels, but we're hurting our brands if we don't start thinking about new ways to engage and connect.
Brands need to ask themselves these professional questions:
- If we're already advertising, what else can we do with digital channels?
- How do we build loyalty?
- How different is the Web from mobile and tablets? (hint they're all very different!)
- How do we get more people talking about what we sell?
- How do we connect to the people who may be looking to buy what we're selling?
- How do we open up our brand to make the things we sell more shareable and more findable?
- How can we make the people from within our organization the true champions of our brand?
- Can these digital channels make us smarter internally?
- Can we use these channels as a business-to-business function as well?
- How do we celebrate the customers who really are our true brand champions?
- What would our world look like if we started thinking more about marketing instead of focusing only on advertising solution?
- Are there partnerships for our brand to make with other brands?
Social is as social does.
There is a need for a constant reality check. Brands need to take a serious look in the mirror and ask themselves if their digital media efforts are being used as a form of advertising or - worse - marketing that is really just thinly veiled advertising. To this day, we have too many marketing professionals who think that the online channels best serve a younger more connected crowd or that it's a much cheaper way to blast a message anywhere and everywhere. Again, this isn't a marketing professional, this is an advertising professional way of thinking and doing.
Don't diminish what you do not fully understand.
Not only is this diminishing the marketing opportunities that are bountiful, it's actually diminishing the overall credibility of the brand. I like the idea of being a Marketing Reformer or a Marketing Theorist (and, they're fancy titles to boot!), but I'd much prefer to see more brands looking at these digital channels as the new frontier for marketing opportunities, instead of another channel for advertising.
What's your take?