Who waits for the master plan will fail
24 August 2012
With criticism often levelled at agencies for ineffective digital campaigns, I want to highlight the role and responsibility of the client in the creative process. It is their job to define specific strategic goals and the providers must then deliver appropriate solutions for these challenges. If the metrics are not defined clearly from the outset then campaigns are destined to leave marketers unsatisfied. Time is running out and brands have to decide what they want to do. I am convinced that the time to start investing seriously in digital communications is now.
Many clients ask, “Does the world really need digital marketing?" and looking at the media coverage of recent weeks, doubts may arise. There have been protests against the social media projects of Schufa (a German credit check organisation) and fierce criticism of the new German registration laws – every time the topic ‘systematic handling of digital consumer data’ was mentioned a loud outcry could be heard in public. But much worse: not even data management experts seem to know exactly how they should handle the flood of consumer data in their marketing strategies.
In issue 25 of the main German marketing trade magazine HORIZONT
a survey by the management-consulting group Camelot was featured. The conclusion: digital marketing has still not arrived fully in today’s business reality. The HORIZONT
editor presenting the survey also found the scapegoat for this result: the service providers. In his opinion they are all aimed at selling cutting edge communications tools but are often not able to explain how to implement these new systems into existing business processes.
At this point I must vigorously oppose this assertion. The real problem is that many companies implement their digital strategies half-heartedly or only based on intermediate objectives. One cannot assume that there are no applicable systems on the market or that service providers are not equipped to successfully implement them. Successful digital marketing systems exist and are up and running.
These platforms come in many guises and scales: one group are difficult to control ‘digital tankers’ like ‘Integrated Suites’, ‘Enterprise Marketing Management Systems’ or ‘Loyalty Management Systems’. However, companies can also integrate ‘light speedboats' that are very flexible and generate significant results at short notice. They include ‘Marketing and Sales Automation Solutions’ based on ASP as well as ‘Mobile/Web Analytics and Targeting Platforms’.
These ‘speedboats’ are currently increasing the profits of companies across many industries. Publishers, mail order companies, businesses in the automotive sector and airlines use them to optimize their strategic decision making and automate pricing, content and communications procedures. Also they come to be used as innovation platforms and early warning systems.
However, marketers who only care for individual tools and their potential and do not take the next step, have not understood the fundamental changes of the digital world. It’s not about using individual tools. But all about a combination of different marketing disciplines like strategy, marketing and technology.
Multi-disciplinary knowhow is the key to success: analytics, coordination of all communications channels, creative concepts and basic marketing competencies – every module has to fit seamlessly. This is currently the main challenge in digital marketing. This is the lesson all stakeholders must still learn.
This is why we recommend acting quickly to our clients, but starting the process with flexible, small and affordable solutions. It is important for success to integrate the new digital solutions seamlessly into their existing infrastructures. Using this method brands can generate a higher ROI in a very short period of time and expand their expertise in digital marketing successively.
To achieve this goal, agencies must become reliable technology partners, who deliver custom solutions for the strategies defined by their clients. That is our task, which we already fulfil every day. However, it is not our job to also deliver the strategy for our clients – this is their responsibility. We can’t dictate which and how many strategic steps a brand must take to implement a successful digital marketing concept. These decisions have to be made by the client – and they have to be made soon.
The time is ripe to set foot in the world of digital communications. Successful digital marketing systems and cases are already implemented and running straight. However, what is still missing is the much-vaunted entrepreneurial spirit in all industries to use the resulting opportunities and platforms. Hesitant players should at last find the courage to face the new digital challenges. If not, they shouldn’t complain when they find themselves at the end of the rankings in their respective industries. Let’s tackle these challenges together! Today!
Stephan Horvath, chief executive of Draftfcb in Munich