I am sitting in an coliform-riddled Best Western in Peru, Indiana right now (I’m not kidding about the e coli part), drinking bottled water and pondering the meaning of a marketer’s life. The answer, I think, is ‘Integrated Marketing’.
Here’s a conversation I had today with one of my sharpest clients:
Me Smiling victoriously: …and internet sales are up over 25% since 2005-2006.
Client Frowning unhappily: Sure, but what if our catalogs did that?
Me Nodding intelligently: Catalogs and other offline stuff definitely drive customers. Our online marketing insures that you’re visible when they look for you.
Client Parrying vigorously: Yes, but chances are they would’ve found us anyway.
Me Gurgling internally: Well, we know that 60% of your search sales were new. But we can never attribute any one sale to any one source. So you may be right – our work may not matter.
This does have a happy ending. Keep reading…
OUCH. The Truth Hurts
Welcome to life as a marketer. We can crow about analytics, talk about the beautiful stats we can provide, and wave three-dimensional bar charts until we tear our rotator cuffs. The truth is, though, that nothing is certain.
We’ve faced this problem for decades, if not centuries. Human beings are funny beasts. They don’t see an ad and make a beeline for the nearest web site. Any marketing has to chip away at their awareness, slowly, until it makes an impact.
Those Clever Monkeys
We are, after all, the cleverest of monkeys. You can’t expect us to make quick, easily-tracked decisions.
I have 2 kids – my typical train of thought is something like this:
- This is a great TV show. I hope the main character doesn’t die of that heart attack.
- Hahaha that’s a funny commercial for get well cards.
- Man, I need to go to the gym.
- I’ll ride the stationary bike for a while.
- Stationery. Hmmmm… I need to do cards for my clients.
- Man, the kids are awfully quiet. This is great. I can write a blog entry.
- What’s that burning smell?
- An hour later: Man, I need to go to the gym…
If I go online and buy a stationary bike or some nifty note cards, who gets the credit? The agency that created the commercial? The writer for the TV show? The web site designer?
It’s impossible to say. So what’s the answer?
I told you there’s a happy ending. Here’s how the discussion ended (paraphrased, and continued from above):
Me: It’s certainly possible that our work did little. But we both know better. 15 months ago you didn’t earn a 3:1 ROI from pay per click marketing. Now you do. Online revenue is up, and nothing else explains that, either.
Client: That’s true…
Me: Everything you do to market your business, including internet marketing, adds up. Folks see your products in a magazine. A week later, they search for your name online, but misspell it. They see our PPC ad and click it. Then they buy. The magazine ad started the process. Our ad finished it.
Client: That makes sense.
I just described the results of integrated marketing: A message in one medium generates behavior in another. If you’re positioned to take advantage, that behavior leads to a new customer. If you’re not, someone else reaps the benefit.
Don’t try to take 100% credit. Instead, show how you played your part in the larger customer conversation.
With that, I bid you good night. I have to figure out how I’m going to boil water using the hotel’s iron…