In the “Mad Men” days and until very recently, companies orchestrated their marketing campaigns from a unified perspective, and usually through a single agency that handled everything from strategy, to branding and messaging, copywriting, design and execution. It worked well – because every person who touched any aspect of the campaign worked from a common strategy, and from a common messaging foundation. The message the public saw on a television commercial had the same theme and brand as the messages seen in print or online. Companies that are serious about marketing still use this strategy, although there has been an unfortunate tendency to stray away from it.
Marketing today has taken on a highly specialized focus, often with multiple providers, each one providing a single piece of the puzzle, and often with no communication at all between them. The results are unfortunate. When the company’s CMO says, “Hey, we need social media!” They go out and hire a social media expert. A video company is brought in to create a YouTube video, a graphic artist to create artwork and a logo, a copywriter to write copy, a website designer to create a new website, and an SEO guy to juice the search engine, each one a separate freelancer or separate small agency. Before you know it, there are ten completely separate creative professionals or service firms, each going in a different direction, with no communication or coordination between them. The social media guy doesn’t feel a need to talk to the web designer, the copywriter doesn’t want to talk with the social media guy, and the logo designer in Mumbai doesn’t speak English.
The obvious question is, why do website companies focus only on design? Why don’t they have copywriters on staff? The copy on the website is every bit as important, if not more important, than the look, feel and navigability. Depending on the client to provide the copy is a recipe for disaster – and the end result is often a great-looking website with unconvincing copy that doesn’t get the expected results.
By the same token, social media should never exist in isolation, yet too many times, it does. The social media manager often operates in stovepipe mode off in a corner somewhere, completely separate from public relations and media outreach – but what drives social media growth? Good posts on Facebook only go so far, and Facebook growth doesn’t happen just because you write good posts and throw in a picture of a kitten every now and then. Growth happens because people from outside Facebook find out about you and like you, and in that respect, social media and traditional public relations in the form of outreach to print, broadcast and online media need to operate together, from a common strategy and with a common goal.
Despite the proliferation of individual specialized providers, best practices in marketing are still the same as they always were—operate from a unified strategy, with a single branding and messaging platform across all tactics.