Last week I was asked if I am a performance led marketer or a brand led marketer. It’s in one’s DNA – apparently. Hmmm, this question made me think about marketing in general.
Having worked all my marketing roles with internet companies I have obviously a very strong performance led background, by that I mean being able to gather data, to track (especially conversions), to measure impact and to change almost immediately.
It’s a great base to start. It brings a certain discipline with it. It’s the starting point of having more and more performance related contracts with agencies that usually just worked on pure retainers or service charges. It’s the driver of wanting to understand impact. It makes it easy to justify. It encourages testing of new ideas and a short feedback loop.
It can, however, also lead to a very short sighted approach, one only driven by numbers and technology; underestimating or completely ignoring other fields such as psychology, sociology and politics. It might lead to dismissing opportunities that take longer to develop; it might lead to a strong inward focus instead of a balanced approach. Numbers become more important than people. That’s the great danger and the great mistake.
To make a real impact, a feed forward loop needs to be added to the natural feedback loop of performance marketing. The creation of a brand, of a market place, of a reality needs to be added to the reactive nature to the market. The brand vision and the brand essence need to filter and drive performance related marketing. And performance related marketing’s rigorous tracking approach needs to be included into every single marketing activity, as an optimisation tool, but overall marketing impact needs to be measured holistically against the business strategy, because all marketing activities feed each other.
If we were to apply the currently popular performance measures of transaction and conversions to social media and mobile, we would – most likely – abort their usage straight away. And we would miss a massive opportunity.
We, as in everybody within social media, need to find different meaningful measures that reflect the nature of social media and mobile.
We, as in the marketing people, need to continue to participate in these new phenomena and adapt our strategies even though the performance doesn’t compare favourably at this state.
We, as the people running departments and companies, need to integrate social media and mobile into the culture of our organisation and place it at the heart of all our activities.
The change we have seen in the last 10 years is nothing compared to the change we will experience in the next 10 years – nowhere less so than in marketing.
By the way, if you wonder what my answer was, here it is: “I started in performance led marketing, but these days performance-led and brand-led approaches are no longer mutually exclusive. This differentiation is from the past, the present is about merging the two.”