Integration Won’t Be Enough

I’ve been considering the impact of algorithms, automation tools and contextual media on marketing as we know it. It’s becoming clear to me that integrated marketing won’t be enough to make a company, nonprofit or individual competitive in this coming era. Integrating marketing communications ina contextual era, while certainly better than a series of one off touches, would be the equivalent of bringing a knife to a gun fight.

In its traditional form, integration implies all marketing pieces working together to deliver a uniform message. The key here is the uniformity of the message.

In a highly segmented contextual world where individuals are served highly customized content, only offering integrated communications will be robotic, plain and over massaged corporate speak. Most people turnoff bland communications unless they have a burning need for the offered product or service.

Uniformity of message will not help a brand ring through the noise. In fact, the notion of same message everywhere in every medium flies in the face of context.

Let’s use an example. In the Age of Context, Shel Israel and Robert Scoble talk about the incredible innovations occurring at Gillette Stadium with its mobile app and wifi network. Eventually contextual intelligence will be built into this system.

Right now the Gillette Stadium app is delivering the uniform information, the same info you can find online or in a brochure. So if I was on a vegetarian day and wanted to find non-meat, non-junk food eats at the stadium, I would have a hard time with the app. Instead, I would have to walk the stadium to find the food I want.

A competitive app THAT leveragES contextual data would already know that I enjoy vegetarian eats now and then. Without prompting, it would suggest the most friendly vegetarian food stands. The competing app would be more useful and would win my business. Gillette Stadium would lose the opportunity to sell me on other stadium events and stores.

You can see that integrated messaging is weak in comparison to an algorithm-driven contextual machine that builds layers of message and content complexity into its integration.

BUT…

Marketers struggle with the very basis of customer experience as it is. Hell, they still struggle with basic integration.

This new round of technologies will create even more difficulties. One of those problems will be unleashing contextual solutions without a balance of customer permission and a healthy sense of personal boundaries. People can and will become creeped out.

The contextual revolution offers a strong reminder that human strategy and intelligence needs to drive communications. Understanding human levers will supersede systems. Building the right parameters for intelligent content systems will take precedence over the basic blocking and tackling that an integrated program offers. So in the art of marketing generalship great weapons can win, but you need to know how to use them.

What do you think?

7 Daunting Challenges Facing Marketers

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Marketing today remains a great challenge, in large part because of the consistently changing technology and media landscape. Informational sources (conferences, blogs, etc.) consistently address these challenges yet the issues persist.

It may be time to take a step back on a macro level and look at how education and information sources are meeting these challenges.

Here are the seven daunting difficulties for today’s communicators, each followed by an idea or three on how to address them. Please add your own thoughts.

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The End of the Social PR Revolution

Soup Lines
Image by OakleyOriginals

In building the program for xPotomac (February 25th), I sought to address a sea change in media evolution. That change spells the end for the social PR revolution, a marketing movement embodied by brand-led conversations over the past seven years.

We are currently experiencing a throttling of branded, online grassroots power. Specifically, it’s becoming harder and harder for marketers to be seen with branded earned media and social updates.

This evolution is best evidenced by the increasing role of owned and paid content placement (as discussed, content marketing is the 21st century nice description of advertising), and social or native advertising.

Other signs evidence this change, too. Social search and stronger policing of black hat SEO by Google has put a premium on paid search again. Facebook’s use of Edgerank to force companies and individuals alike to pay for attention is another harbinger of this fate.

The rise of big data and the forthcoming wearable computing revolution — themes that run throughout xPotomac — will cause a further throttling of online grassroots pipes.

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Will Social Rule the Marketing World?

54 Percent of All Ad Expenditures in 2010 Were Spent on Direct Marketing

No. It won’t.

The truth? Online media — all forms of it — increasingly rules the world, but social is just a piece of that converged puzzle.

When you look at the numbers direct marketing rules the world, at least from an overall marketing spend perspective (see above chart from the Marketing in the Round infographic), money is being invested in direct tactics like email marketing, direct mail, search, and more first. That’s because the direct marketing approach yields the most ROI at a 10:1 ratio, according to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA).
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Influence: The Importance of Consistency

Consistency: a Motivational Poster
Image by jot777stan

It’s funny how much we talk about content frequency, retweet ratios, comments, etc. as key determinants of influence. What really matters in interactions with people, particularly as a content creator, is consistency.

Not that content, retweets and interactions aren’t important. They are (depending on your goals).

They’re just public and measurable, making them easily quantified. Go Klout.

From a psychological perspective, when trying to develop influence and loyalty we need consistency in those acts. We trust people that deliver reliable consistent acts, and are even lulled into trusting them without thinking about it (groupthink).
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