Friday, April 15, 2011

Beyond advertising

Over the last few months there has been much written about the future of advertising, especially in the blogosphere.

The catalyst for all this chatter and discussion was an article published towards the end of last year by Fast Company magazine.

Given the amount of change wrought upon the advertising industry since the internet became something we take for granted, I’m surprised people can still find something new to say about the future of advertising.

That’s not to say that there isn’t anything to say. More that I’m getting a bit tired of self proclaimed experts wheeling old the same old clich├ęd predictions and pontifications.

Joseph Jaffe’s acclaimed book, Life after the 30 second spot, is now six years old. I’m sure you will have read it. Most people in marketing did back in the mid to late noughties.

Suffice to say, in spite of its predicted extinction, the 30 second spot is alive and well.

In fact, now that all the free-to-air digital television channels have finally launched, I’d say there are more opportunities for good old 30 second ads than ever before.

That’s not to say that the quality of TV advertising is very high, because it certainly isn’t, but stories of its demise appear as yet to be unfounded.

One of the more interesting of the “future of” articles and blog posts that I’ve read over the last couple of months came from John Dodds, from the blog Make Marketing History.

If you’re in marketing, and you’re not a regular reader of Doddsy, you should be. He’s a very insightful commentator.

Dodd’s post was entitled The future of the marketing director. Here’s its opening paragraph;

“Everyone’s writing self-serving pieces about the future of advertising, yet few of them seem to realise that the true subject is the future of marketing.

Central to that is the future of the marketing director, an important role that has, all too often, relegated itself to some kind of administrator of outsourcing.”

Ouch! Bet you never saw that coming did you? Well not in this column anyway.

Dodds goes on to say, “The reversal of that trend starts with knowing what marketing really is.”

But I know what marketing is, you’re probably thinking. Of course you do, but do your colleagues and superiors?

To them marketing is basically advertising or promotional activity.

I know there’s so much more to it than that. I’m sure you do too, but what about the rest of your organisation?

The way Dodds sees it, marketers need to take on a more evangelical role. One where spreading the word and educating others is part and parcel of the job.

He doesn’t however mean evangelising products or brands, because you probably do that already.

What Dodds wants marketers to do, is to evangelise marketing itself, and its importance to the company.

Of course I would say this, but I reckon he’s on to something.

Over the last couple of years, thanks to our old friend the GFC, companies looking to cut costs have had marketing budgets under the microscope.

Obviously this is because they see marketing as a cost to the business. But perhaps it is because marketers are not doing enough to promote the importance of marketing within their organisation.

Because if it was promoted like a product or service, then perhaps it would be more highly valued. And management would look elsewhere for cost savings.

As John Dodds says, marketing needs to take on an evangelical role. For it is only by evangelising, that you can turn the sceptics and doubters of the corporate world into marketing believers.

And, as Dodds himself says, “Until this is achieved, marketing will be under-valued.”


Make Marketing History

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