Are your marketing tactics on Alcatraz?

by David Johnson on March 9, 2010

Are your marketing tactics sentenced to a life of isolation?

As I launch my first blog, I’m thinking it might be helpful for the readers to understand where I’m coming from.  I am a sales guy at heart who has worked very closely with marketing teams in an attempt to collaborate in the development of strategies that enable a sustained competitive advantage.  I don’t get caught up in the headlines, or care about impressions, affidavits, eye-balls, etc.  The volume game is over.  The fact is that if you are a small company or a major brand focused on a volume game, independently from your ground game (in-market sales or mobilizing your target audience to a call-to-action), there’s a competitor in the market that will be eating your lunch…unless you wake up.  The same holds for people trying to promote a cause or get a candidate elected.

I’m most interested in understanding what tactics, or combinations of tactics, convert into a lead, a sale, advocacy or some other desired tangible outcome.  I want to accurately determine what messaging evokes the preferred response and across what channel (TV, radio, direct mail, tele, Internet, email, mobile, social media).

I’ve been an advocate of this type of thinking for a long time.  I’ve spent the last few years directly and through my organizations promoting multi-channel marketing campaigns that were highly integrated with direct and channel sales teams.  And quite honestly, it amazes me how few organizations get it right.  However, I met a customer who made a lasting impression on me about 4 years ago in the pharmaceutical industry.  Let me share the story with you:

Every year during the September – October time frame many pharmaceutical brand teams  finalize their tactic mix for the coming year.  They need at least this much time to get all of the final copy through the “med legal review process,” the process by which the legal organization insures that any promotion messaging that goes into market will meet both FDA and Pharma Code guidelines…a tedious, daunting and arduous process.

So my company, along with at least 12 other integrated marketing companies and agencies, went to the tactic review meeting.  The purpose of the meeting was for all of the companies to present their storyboard and discuss the expected outcome (ATU & L metrics Awareness, Trial, Usage and Loyalty) and the value proposition associated with their portion of the campaign.

After all the companies had completed their presentations, the client stood up in front of all of us and said, “…well, I tallied it up. Based on your combined expected outcomes and value propositions, my market will grow by 5X next year and this will be the most productive campaign in the history of the pharmaceutical industry!”  Then he proceeded to say, “…when are you all going to realize that no tactic is an island, everything works together and is co-dependent.  You cannot all claim the same value over and over?” WOW! (Sound familiar?)  One example is that two agencies were claiming a big impact on new patient trials.  One of the agencies was doing the direct to consumer (DTC) TV media campaign, and the other agency had responsibility for a new in-office trial offer that would be presented to the patient by the physician.  Both valuable, both independently probably driving new trials.  But the trial numbers cannot be stacked because of the cross-over impact of each of the campaign tactics…remember 13+ tactics in total.

It was at that very moment “I got it.” I fully and completely internalized what it was like to be on the other side of the table.  We, collectively forced the client to suffer through the rationalization of the value of our tactics – independently and then on an integrated basis as part of the broader campaign.  Then he developed his own business case that he could support and confidently take to management. He did all of it without any support from the tactic providers.  Why?  Because he lacked confidence in our ability to be anything other than self-serving and focused on our own bottom line.

Unfortunately, things have not changed much with regard to how agencies engage with clients or how clients buy and deploy marketing and advertising.  Agencies and consultancies are too fragmented. Organizations are equally fragmented.  Few agencies, consultancies and companies deploy multi-channel integrated campaigns that can be accurately measured so you can isolate what works and what doesn’t cross-channel so you can make intelligent resource reallocation decisions.  Below is a typical example of how marketing and advertising investments are considered.

So, now you understand why I chose Alcatraz Island as my header picture. Every marketer and advertiser needs to ask, are my tactics on an island?  Have I sentenced the campaign to a life term of underperformance?  If so, you should probably seek help.

The purpose of this blog is not to point out problems, or to presume I have all of the answers, I don’t.  I simply want to challenge the industry to do better and offer some ideas that will improve the effectiveness of your marketing and advertising efforts.  In subsequent blogs I will discuss how the following concepts can be applied to B2B, B2C, P2P and cause/political marketing initiatives and campaigns:

  • Sales Enablement
  • Lead Generation
  • Social Media
  • Enabling Tools
  • Widgets
  • Syndication
  • Multi-Channel Direct Response (TV, radio, print, billboard, Internet, Social Media, Mobile)
  • Relevant Engagement Strategies
  • Targeting and Segmentation
  • Semantic Search
  • Internet TV and Radio
  • Highly Segmented You-Tube Marketing
  • Micro Marketing
  • List Management
  • Database Marketing w/ Lifestyle Data
  • Many others…

Next up, the person who exposed me for what I was, a dinosaur.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mr WordPress March 7, 2010 at 10:28 am

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Big Boy March 9, 2010 at 10:45 am

Davie, Good Stuff! Looking forward to this on a daily basis.


Linda JD March 12, 2010 at 4:22 pm

What an interesting and thoughtful posting. Although I am in the field of education, I appreciated your discussion on the importance of integrating strategies…something we should do more often in education, also! I am looking forward to future posts…


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