Like so many other ad agencies, we are struggling with what to do with social and digital media. Not so much how to use it, or the benefits it offers, or how to apply it, but more importantly what it does in terms of affecting the total marketing mix.
I think most ad agencies are stuck in the land of the integrated marketing communications model. This model has been around for the last twenty years and has been greatly effective and influential in adjusting behaviors and attitudes of consumers.
This model basically subscribes to the idea that the brand messaging and positioning should reach its target audience in a consistent manner utilizing different media (direct marketing, advertising, publicity, selling, promotion and online). This model is heavy on push marketing where the information is controlled by the sender and delivered in multiple ways to the recipient.
Fast forward to 2009.
Today we have more choices than we know what to do with. This proliferation of information has turned the emphasis on what the consumer wants and what is he/she asking for. No longer can companies expect target audiences to respond in a predictable fashion without first engaging their intended audience and finding out what they want and how they want to be communicated with. This is where the choices and options for connecting with potential customers have exploded.
Now people are going to websites, forums, news sources, independent blogs, or other online sources to research and find out about products, services and companies. Consumers are now coming to their own conclusions without any input from the companies that offer the products and services. This is where advertising agencies need to understand not only who the target audiences are, but where they are online and where are they getting their information from. This not only takes into account the tools that are used but how and when to use them. This means constantly evaluating new technologies and understanding how your potential customers are getting information and providing it in a way that is useful and practical to them.