This question has gained even more traction (to use some recent jargon) since the emergence of the interweb. Marketers now have more direct contact with customers and prospects, as well as more accurate measurement of marketing activity in real time.
And if you work in marketing you’ll know one of the easier things to do is “brand advertising”.
Marketers are smart people. They write a brief and give it to their advertising agency. The agency has all sorts of people who go to work on the brief. They choose a proposition, if one hasn’t been supplied with the brief and then create the ads.
The advertisement is sometimes put into research to ensure it is right for the market and then it is produced. Eventually it goes to air, into the press, online or in whatever mass media it is designed for, in the hope it will reach the right audience.
In some cases the advertising performance is measured – either by research to see if anyone remembers seeing it, or more rarely by sales, if the marketer is able to link the advertisement directly to a sale.
Marketers tend to focus their most expensive senior resources on this type of advertising. Yet it’s the type of message customers don’t care too much about and often ignore – unless they’re in the market to buy.
Conversely, most marketing departments delegate responsibility for the hardest thing to do in marketing – that is, to talk personally with relevance directly to the people who pay their salaries, their customers.
The task of getting individuals to stop what they are doing and to act on receipt of a personal message, such as an e-mail, telephone call, mailing, online ad, etc, is the hardest thing to do in marketing – it’s known as direct marketing.
Yet all around the marketing community there are Josephine and Joe Juniors with the responsibility for all manner of communications with their customers: sending personalised e-mails, telemarketing, direct mail, blogs, social posts newsletters and the like – the stuff that can often have the most impact on customers perceptions of a brand.
The personal media are usually the most powerful for building a brand – whatever “building a brand” means. Or to use current jargon, for “engaging with customers”. And marketers cannot afford to delegate to juniors down the marketing hierarchy the responsibility for their customer contact strategy. Just because someone can type slowly, does not automatically mean they can communicate persuasively.
Most marketing departments should be turned upside down.
Give juniors the responsibility for the easier work – brand advertising for mass media – as part of their training and professional development. They can always be supervised.
Make senior marketing management responsible for the hardest job – creating personal, relevant communications to customers who have given you permission to do so. Senior marketers have to be responsible, unless they don’t value their brands.
Consider how you react. Do you like to receive endless duplicate mailings from brands all spelling your name incorrectly? Or maybe you like receiving unsolicited e-mails or sms from promotion departments? Or telephone calls from market researchers at 9.00pm at home on weeknights? Do you enjoy branded posts from advertisers on your social feeds? (according to eMarketer almost none of us do). How about talking to alleged voice interaction machines disguised as customer service? Or better still, try redeeming your points as a frequent flyer over the interweb, or if you can reach a human, over the telephone line? Now there are some brand-building experiences.
If you value your brand, you’ll change the way you value your marketing communications and turn your marketing department upside down.
You’ll probably find your customers thank you for it and you make more money.