On Christmas Eve in the afternoon I received an e-mail from a reader. Like much of the messages that I receive it was from someone who corresponds fairly regularly with me but I have never met in person. He asked me simply, “What is the biggest challenge that marketers face going forward?” Admittedly, I was pressed for time. I was about to leave for a church service where I sing Christmas songs with my enthusiastic but shaky tenor. So I wrote back simply, “To grow your brand and protect the business that you have at the same time.” I was out the door.
A few days passed. Even I do not check e-mail on Christmas Day. When I went to check messages, there was a strongly worded reply from my reader. This being a family blog, I will not repeat his exact words but a sanitized version goes something like this: “Don, you idiot! How could you give such a knee jerk response to my serious question? Here is my answer: The biggest problem faced by both ad agencies and their clients going forward is how do you build a mass oriented brand in a media environment that has become personalized? As a media person, you should understand this. Narrow targeting opportunities are almost endless but how do you balance things? How much conventional media do you use and how much pin-point targeting goes on? Can you still afford to do it given the number of venues that you will need to hit? Will it be possible to calculate ROI on all of these platforms or are we back to 1875 with John Wanamaker’s theory that I know half of my advertising is waste, the problem is I do not know which half.”
My e-mail friend certainly had a point. I tossed out the question to several agency folks in my panel and they had two basic answers:
1) People--getting the best that we can afford and holding on to them
2) Keeping up with the rapid changes in the industry
If my reader is right and I think that he may be as he makes a strong case for his POV. I believe that, once again, the gods of marketing will be on the side of the big battalions. Strongly entrenched brands with deep pockets and great research and access to Big Data will have an increasingly strong advantage over start-ups with high hopes and perhaps excellent products. Without hefty resources, social media can only take you so far. Also, media fragmentation is moving so fast that all models of performance of delivery (i.e., reach & frequency) are totally lacking.
What do you think? Care to weigh in? You may reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or add a comment on the blog.