No matter how you say it, the real issue is results Imagine two grown men arguing over who "invented" an often-quoted marketing buzzword. It's not a pretty sight, believe me. Some agency representatives take this silliness one step further by taking an existing discipline that already has a buzzword attached, repackaging it slightly and--poof!--these geniuses have created a whole new discipline! What's more: They can "own" it because they "invented" the word or acronym. The bad news? Marketers don't give a damn.
It's one thing when my friend's 3-year-old insists she has created a new dance called the "Macaroni" because it's slightly different from the Macarena. That's clever for age three. But when seemingly mature professionals get caught up in this buzzword bonanza, it suddenly becomes clear why marketers aren't looking to agencies to solve their problems and why consultants are eating agency lunches.
Knock off the navel contemplation if you still want to be a player in two years. It's not about how you make it "specific," it's not about how you "co-market," it's not about how you "collaborate." It's time to strip away all the banter about what definitions and monikers are in or out, or who invented them because this drive to assign buzzwords to a tactical flavor of the week doesn't address the real issue: Success and credibility is about how you make marketing accountable and drive results. Furthermore, the existing practice of separating advertising and promotion disciplines has to stop, because it's no longer working.
Agencies that continue to apply only pretty-picture and GRP solutions to all client needs are going to go the way of the dinosaur. To successfully conceive a new communication discipline, account and creative managers need to understand the complex communication environment of the '90s, where all equity messaging requires a call to action, and all call-to-action communication needs to include an equity message.
Unfortunately, no clever buzzwords are going to magically mend this predicament. Progression out of the current marketing quagmire will require a new agency structure and management skill sets. For example, account managers will need to be as knowledgeable of a company's brand character and merchandising strategies as they are now about media and creative strategies.
Think about it: When was the last time you spoke to your client's sales force or broker organization? When was the last time you asked to go on an account call to see how a retail customer reacted to a marketing plan?
It's time to confront the fact that the old ways of doing business are no longer relevant. There are reasons marketers are hiring consultants to help with their strategic thinking. And there are reasons marketers evaluate agencies only on creative development and no longer look to agencies to provide strategic insights.
Buzzwords don't drive business or build relationships. A new and different marketing communications environment requires innovative approaches. It's time for a new discipline, it's time for new thinking, it's time for change. In the end, no matter what it's called, results will prevail. K
Jon Kramer is president of J. Brown/LMC Group, a Stamford, Conn.- based marketing communications agency.