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What can we bring to the brand?

November 3, 2009

I want to talk about silos. And agency titles. If you click the link to my post about Agency Titles, you’ll read the fourth most read post I’ve ever written. It was written to reflect the idea that digital marketing is creating executions that don’t fit into the narrative of the typical agency.If you don’t mind taking a look, I think it will help understand the post below. It kind of adds to the argument.

Here are a couple of things that have happened recently that have me thinking about this topic:

1. I recently listened to a Bean Cast episode that wondered if the Direct Marketing people should re-brand. (If you’ve ever talked to a DMer, then you know the irony in DM people thinking they need to “re-brand”.) The crux of the thinking is that DMers are good at understanding response, and the internet offers the ability for people to respond in wonderful new ways. I came away from this discussion thinking that DMers want to redefine what they do in their Silo of the marketing mix. They want to think digital. They want to use Social Media. Etc. Have a listen, and then think about the kinds of ‘ideas’ that DMers could bring to the table.

2. Metaphorically speaking, a marketing plan is like the drawings for a house. It takes a lot of talented people to design it. Then, it takes a lot of talented people to build it: You have plumbers who plumb, electricians who run wire, woodworkers who work with wood, etc.

That’s a good metaphor for what we have now. In the execution phase of the marketing plan, we have interactive people who work on the interactive. Copywriters and Art Directors who work on the idea. DMers who work on the mail. Media people who work on picking the media… this is simplified, but you get the drift.

The thing is though: we’re no longer building houses. I’m not sure what we’re building, maybe engagements, interactions, or some other marketing buzzword that explains what all this means. But in real terms, think about it this way.

An ARG is not your typical house. It doesn’t need a media person (or maybe it does, but not to do the same thing). The new style of marketing is more like hiring a plumber, and having them build you a whole new system for going to loo.

So why do titles and silos matter? Well, when marketers are off doing their own thing, the end result is confusion to the consumers. If the TV said this, but the Facebook page says that, then what you’re left is more than just a disjointed message — you’re left with a disjointed consumer.

So this comes back to the age-old question: who comes up with the ideas? When crafting the plans for a brand, who should be involved? Does your agency have planners, media people, creative people, and account people. Or does it simply have humans who are charged with forging the idea that can work seamlessly across mediums and actually get the consumer to do something?

If you’re that last person, the human, is your title is in the way of your accomplishing it?

When I turn this question to me, I ask this: as the social media strategist, will people even accept ideas from me that don’t fall into my niche? I know the answer at my agency.

What’s the answer at yours?

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