Our First “Middle School” Marketing Gathering

Josh Chambers, Former Viget

Article Category: #Strategy

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By Josh Chambers & Ryan Moede

It's easy to spot the two schools of thought in marketing and advertising today.  You're either a "new school" marketer (you think Twitter is going to save the world), or you're an "old school" marketer (you still double-click on hyperlinks and think TV spots are the future). The two groups don't seem to communicate -- and, worse yet, they actually seem to dislike one another.

In a recent discussion with Lisa Throckmorton from Speakerbox, we were talking about that very thing -- the polarization of old school and new school marketing. Long story short, we decided it might be a good idea to get a few DC marketing professionals together with a variety of backgrounds to toss around ideas on how to navigate the current marketing waters -- marketers who value traditional marketing, as well as who "get" newer online marketing. The "middle school" as Lisa called it.

Yesterday morning was our first gathering -- and, we have to say, it was a blast. It was encouraging to hear other marketers resonate with the discomfort surrounding this polarization and hear their insight on why that is, and how we can move past it.

Here are just a few questions we tossed around:

  • What is the general perception of the marketing industry in the DC area?

Washington, DC isn't exactly known for stellar marketing. Why is that? Is it because we're all just crappy marketers? Or is there something else going on? It was really great to hear from marketers across the spectrum -- PR agency professionals, entrepeneurs, advertisers with 30 years of experience, private consultants, and small-firm hipsters. In short, I'd say there is great marketing talent in the region: you just have to know where to look.

  • What is it about social media that lends itself to being confused as an "end" instead of a "mean?"

Social media has become such a hot topic that it feels like it is percieved as an end in and of itself. It seems like the general attitude is that once you've implemented a blog, for example, you're done. The blog isn't the end: it's just a means to accomplish your overall marketing goals and, most importantly, your business objectives (the "end"). The attitude seems to be that social media marketing shoud be treated seperately from all other marketing.

The truth is that new social media tools will continue to disrupt traditional tactics for advertisers, marketers, and public relations professionals (and, yes, even others - are you listening customer service people?). But, the integrated marketing and communications strategies still apply.

  • How do you pitch social media marketing to clients when it's a bit tricky to quantify its success -- and how do you quantify its success?

People want to see numbers. Before they make an investment, CEOs and CMOs want to be shown why something is worth the time and money. The very metrics that should be used in measuring social media are still being shaped, so what to do in the interim? And, what metrics should be used?

It was a productive discussion and, while we didn't solve the world's problems, we learned some new things and are excited about the potential. Thanks to all those who hung out with us -- we greatly enjoyed it.

If you feel like throwing your two cents in regarding any of these questions, we'd love to hear them!

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