Thursday, January 29, 2009

Current Digital Efforts Reveal Lack of Understanding

So the marketing world is well versed in digital work. We have agency shops, 360 shops, digital shops and all kinds of digital boutiques. What's missing is one single good example of a solid digital campaign. I'm not talking about banners or video or viral projects that sometimes hit and more often miss the point entirely. I'm talking about just one brand that has had consistent success with their digital efforts.

I can think of Dell coming close. And this is in spite of the efforts of Enfatico. For all the talk about conversation, listening and engaging customers, where is the proof. We can talk until our jaw bone hurts (and many of us do). I'm ready to see some action. Where will the first effort come from? Will it even be an agency or is this realm resigned to internal efforts?

The formula is not a secret and not even as difficult as campaigns currently being produced:
  1. Monitor/Listen - You can sell this as an effort to gain insights that make the current campaigns even better. Why do we require a critical mass of criticism before taking action. There is enough feedback to be kinda smart already.
  2. Participate (Part I) - Participation doesn't take a silver bullet (or gold lion). All it takes is the ability to respond to a customer that is passing along wrong information. Trust me, these are not hard to locate. Correct the mistakes that are out there. Do it in a nice way. Done? Good job. You're already ahead of 99% of the digital efforts.
  3. Participate (Part II) - If you've done a good job of providing the proper information where needed, you might just get invited to the party. Make sure you show up ready for a party. This does not mean arming yourself with business cards and leaflets. The only businesses that offer pure product are commodities. If you don't sell a commodity, you have something of value to offer. Offer insight, not sales pitches.
  4. Technologies - Everyone wants to build the bright and shiny object first. There are plenty of them already out there. Most fail. Not because they are bad. In fact, many of these shiny tools work quite well. They only require users. Build your user base first. See where there are gaps. In fact, your customers will often tell you where the gaps are. If you can fix the problem, do it. Then, make your functional object bright and shiny. Aah, look at the chrome shine in the sun.
  5. All together now - Final step, and it's the tricky one. Let it all come together. Let people surround you with love. We have a name for this - affinity. But be careful, if you think you can build affinity without trust or consistent expectations, you're doomed to end up like all the rest. Affinity is not a campaign. It's the result of smart campaigning.
There you have it. If you don't believe me, you can find much of the same being touted by hundreds of others in the field. The problem is not the thought behind reaching today's customers through digital technologies. The problem is the execution (and often lack thereof).

Just dumb it down. The big idea is gone. Don't expect this to sit well with any of the c crowd you run into. But work it in your favor. A small victory can snowball into a new way of thinking.

It's coming anyway. It's coming slowly, but it's coming. One thing you can't avoid is a cultural shift. And don't say I didn't warn you.

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