Sunday, May 17, 2009


Image courtesy of jpdodd

Below is my contribution to the recently published book - 'Connect. Marketing in the social media era', although my article in the book is titled "It's not that we don't care. We do. But our structure is wrong".

Today, many marketing departments are structured to launch advertising campaigns. We push out messages to the marketplace. We go live.

Six weeks later, we go off air. We retreat and get ready for our next campaign. We use all relevant media, including online. We may choose to build a presence - a page - on Facebook, myspace or bebo. We post messages on our page, maybe organise a few competitions and chat away enthusiastically with customers that drop by.

Then, just when our customers are beginning to think there are real people behind the brand, we disappear. We don't want to 'go dark'. We were actually beginning to enjoy the conversations. But we're busy and need to get another ad campaign out the door. Our jobs are to make the next TV ad, or get the next suite of online banner ads ready. Nobody is officially responsible for responding to comments. Nobody is responsible for the fix if a customer is not happy or negative on our blog or social network. And we have to fix their problem. Apologising is not enough. Who decides if a specific customer is entitled to a refund or replacement product? Who's budget does it come from? And of course, once we're onto another campaign, our Facebook or twitter page become a ghost town. Tumbleweeds...

Our intentions are good. It is not because we don't care. We do. But our structure is wrong. For many companies, Marketing and Customer Service are different departments. Different teams. Often different buildings. Definitely different objectives and different mindsets. One sends out messages to customers. The other group is tasked with responding to these same customers.

The solution? Merge these two departments and encourage both groups to talk with their customers. Have the same people talking with our customers in our ads, at our website, on our Facebook page - and any other blog or forum where our brand can add to the conversation.

We will still launch campaigns. Yes, I still plan to make TV ads. But they should be just a conversation starter.


Nick McGivney said...

Nobody is officially responsible for responding to comments.Ah yes, and who is going to shake the complacency and - God forbid! - hire that person, in these times?? There are a lot of hurdles, and you allude to them all from a great vantage point. I am actually excited to see how the whole thing evolves, so fundamentally other is the new model. Will evolution cause old school to die off? Will erosion round the edges off? Will things just have to implode, or can it learn to absorb the new and become what is needed. I like the new car, and there's life in the new horse yet, but I can't see them splicing too successfully. Interesting times.

Nick McGivney said...

Make that life in the OLD horse and it might make some bit of sense. :)