When marketing services turn into a commodity
For want of a better descriptor, Web 2.0 sites are useful tools. You can thank the Google Adwords network for this. Because if someone makes a useful tool, then word will spread and people will adopt it.
Google is an excellent example of this. It’s an excellent tool that not only didn’t advertise, but turned marketing on it’s ear with PPC. Google offered companies a cheap and useful tool to go after search terms instead of target markets. And that’s just the beginning.
There is a tool for just about every marketing service, including media buying. It’s called Balihoo. And it’s:
“…a suite of media planning software and service tools designed to make the lives of professional media buyers and media sellers easier. Balihoo streamlines the media research, selection and request-for-proposal processes, and then aggregates all that information into one easy-to-use location that’s sharable across your media organization.”
This tool is free to use for 30 days, then costs money. But I think the bigger question is this: is Balihoo really a do it yourself media buying tool? There already exists “cheap TV spots”. I’ll bet you can find a person in their parent’s garage who can get you a website for $100. There’s DIY radio, print, PPC.
The digital age is like the desktop computer age times about 100. Back when desktops (when Photoshop and Quark hit the market) every Tom, Dick and Harry with a desktop computer could create a client’s brochure (or newsletter) for peanuts. Desktop computers made the newsletter a commodity.
The digital age will continue to see more tools that make it easier for clients to find people who do what we do for a lot less. Marketing will become a commodity unless we can convince clients that we add value.
Luckily though, it’s not a hard argument. It goes back to brand. Brand building isn’t something that will ever be a commodity, because it takes careful planning. Smaller brands might be inclined to wander through the tools to craft their own marketing plans, opting for the dirt cheap options. They’ll look to Google — a textbook example of a brand that was built without advertising — and try to copy it.
Some might, most won’t. And the bigger brands will appreciate agencies that value their client’s brand. But we’ll have to stay on top of clients to point out why we should be the stewards of their brands. Because if they ever decide to go for the low price, we’re in trouble.