September 2006 - Editor's Perspective

Broadening Our Focus

Traditional marketers are feeling the pressure more than ever before to go beyond their core competencies to create a true multichannel environment. While emerging technologies, such as podcasting, RSS, blogging and mobile marketing, have forced agencies to broaden their focus, a recent study has shown that traditional marketers should pay even closer attention to direct response marketing.

What’s more, this recent study and whitepaper, entitled The State of the Agency: Market Transformation and the New Client Dynamic, released by the Winterberry Group have put an exclamation point on this marketing model shift by asking the question: “How can traditional marketers adapt to the challenging agency landscape?”

More than 70 senior executives representing some of the top agencies in the U.S. participated in the Winterberry Group study. They ranged from full-service agencies, specialty service agencies and firms specializing in niche markets, to marketers serving corporate and not-for-profit organizations.

The intent of the study was to analyze how market and industry trends impact the agency landscape. Some of the findings include:

  • The complex demands of the multichannel selling environment require that agencies provide clients with a unified offering spanning both “above-the-line” and “below-the-line” marketing channels.
  • A heightened demand for marketing program accountability is forcing agencies to adapt their service offerings, pricing structures, reporting capabilities and managerial focus.
  • Integrated service providers are seeking to command a greater presence in the agency environment, but struggle to sell their strategic and creative offerings to marketers who associate their brand with other services.
  • The prevalent “agency holding company” model is poorly equipped to provide the organizational agility and cross-channel service offering that today’s marketers demand.

What struck me about the data was the acknowledgement by study participants that the impact of network television advertising has weakened partially to the growing success of direct response marketing, e-mail marketing, online advertising and search engine marketing. Further, the study predicts spending in those areas will increase at an annual rate of 7.9 percent through next year. Brand marketing or “above-the-line” advertising, however, is only expected to jump by 5.2 percent.

While this acknowledgement does validate direct response as a growing and highly legitimate form of marketing in the eyes of traditional marketers, it also supports the notion that even direct response marketers cannot rest on their laurels and simply remain within their own core competencies.

What emerging technology has taught all of us within recent years is that consumers are becoming more responsive to new methods of marketing-whether it be through coupons and special promotions received through their wireless mobile devices, or blogs that engage them and appeal to their hobbies and special interests. It’s up to marketers to broaden their focus to include more effective ways for appealing to consumers’ wants and needs.

Vitisia Paynich


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