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Monday, March 19, 2012

Shifting Gears in 2012 Media

A number of years ago someone whom I know very well was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer. He visited some doctors, read widely and came away a bit confused. It seemed that surgeons all recommended surgery and radiologists all recommended radiation treatment. The surgeons essentially said that with radiation you might not get all of the cancer or that it could come back. The radiologists to a man stated that invasive and delicate surgery could have terrible side effects. He finally made a decision and it worked out well for him.

Each group of doctors was not really being defensive. They were working in their area of expertise and their comfort zone. As our new world of media evolves, I see the same thing happening with agency and corporate media strategists.

Despite protestations to the contrary, most of us do not really like change. So media staffers over the age of 45 or so nod and smile when digital is discussed and they can navigate their way through the buzzwords with growing fluency. Off the record, many tell me that their heart is not in it. One fellow whom I do not personally but who is an active reader of this blog writes, “I am a TV guy. The young kids just want to recommend online, Facebook, and soon mobile on their plans. They treat me like a dinosaur. Maybe I should just take early retirement.” At the other extreme, a young reader hit me with “why do you bother talking about spot broadcast in your blog. It is so 20th century.”

Well. With respect, I feel that they are both wrong. When I look back on my career, it is clear that I am/was a spot TV guy as well. I probably placed more money there than all other media put together. But, it is no longer 1982 or 1992. We have to work in the present. At the same time, TV, radio, magazines have not dried up and blown away yet. So, some sort of balance is required.

Over the last few years, I have stressed the need for constant testing and experimentation with emerging media. With each passing year money will move away from conventional media and in to less conventional venues. This trend is as certain as the sunrise. The trick will be how to manage the withdrawal from legacy media into our emerging world. For example, I personally believe that mobile is perfectly positioned to be the big thing over the next several years. Right now it is underutilized and more people should be testing in that space. Soon, however, people will begin piling in to mobile much as they did online or Facebook a few years ago. Some will be disgruntled as they misallocated their budgets and placed either way too much or do little in mobile early on in the game. With careful planning a smart strategist can avoid getting caught up in the cavalry charge into mobile that is sure to come (we will discuss mobile in detail in upcoming Media Realism posts).

There is another issue out there that is slowly getting traction. It is the growth of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC). Big companies have been involved for some time; medium size players tend to pay lip service to it but are learning and the small fry tends to say, “What’s that.”

Simply put, IMC, is the coordination of all marketing and communications activities. The academics say that there are seven pillars to IMC: advertising, promotion, direct marketing, public relations, publicity, interactive, and personal selling. At every touch point, your message and your look are similar and working in tandem with all other pillars.

As IMC grows, advertising is going to decline as part of the overall marketing mix. Right now, advertising may still be 80% of the action for many brands. With each passing year, the number continues to decline a bit. In package goods, promotion has overtaken advertising in a big way. Please keep in mind that just as every company has a different media mix, each will have a different path and different mix of variables as they go down the IMC road.

So, to my mature media strategists out there, learn to shift gears. You need to adapt or die. To the young firebrands, may I suggest that many of your customers do not yet share your media habits? So, keep pushing the envelope on emerging media but remember you still need a foot or at least a few toes in legacy media.

If you would like to contact Don Cole directly, you may reach him at doncolemedia@gmail.com

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