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A recent survey
by the CMO Council
found that only “9% of senior-level marketers say traditional ad
are doing a good job of evolving and extending service capabilities in the digital
That is troubling, and not a little bit strange,
because, as we learned in a study by IBM
last year, “79% of CMOs expect a high or very high level of marketing
complexity over the next five years, but only 48% say they feel prepared to
cope with it.”
In other words, senior-level marketers need help and
they don’t seem to believe that their traditional partners can provide the help
they need. So, who can?
One answer may be the agencies that today call
themselves “digital,” and particularly those that, like the agency
led by this week’s guest on Marketing Smarts, place “social
media at the core” of everything they do.
“The CMO’s job is harder than it’s ever been,”
Glenn Engler, CEO of Digital Influence Group, told me, “It’s
a really complex media and marketing landscape… and every agency wants to be
a key adviser.”
So how does an agency demonstrate that it “gets”
digital and move into that key advisory role?
Well, paradoxically, it doesn’t start with the
technology; it starts with understanding the client’s business problem and
then, thanks to a thorough knowledge of what’s possible, applying the
appropriate technology to solve the problem. As an example, in the podcast
Glenn describes the work his agency has done for Glidden Paint.
Glidden Paint is sold in Home Depot stores across
the country, which means, among other things, that Glidden has to compete with
Home Depot’s in-store brands. If people walk into a Home Depot and start asking
about paints, they’ll be directed to those in-store brands. The challenge
Glidden faced was this: How do I get people to walk into the store and ask for
or seek out my paint specifically?
The solution devised by Digital Influence Group had
two aspects, one technical and one social, both relying on a critical insight: Usually,
a catalyst—a new sofa, say, or a child going off to college—drives someone’s
decision to change a room.
On the technical side, Digital Influence
Group developed an application that would allow people to take a picture of the
room to be repainted, zoom in on the color of a particular part of the room
(the new sofa, for example), and then get color recommendations based on that
picture. With those recommendations in hand, the customer could walk into any
store selling Glidden Paint and ask for the desired color by name.
On the social side, Digital Influence Group
realized that, strictly speaking, people don’t care about paint as such. What
they do care about is improving their living space. To that end, they want
ideas about what they can do and advice on doing it well.
Accordingly, “We inserted Glidden very generously
into conversations around design [and] sources of inspiration,” Glenn
How? By creating a site—”powered by Glidden”—called
My Colortopia—where noted
bloggers in the DIY home improvement space (folks sourced by Digital Influence
Group) could share their thoughts and experience and where visitors could
access the color tool described above.
The key here wasn’t to enter the conversation
around home design with the message, “Hey, come to me because we’re a
paint,” Glenn says. Instead, Glidden entered the conversation by
recruiting recognized experts to contribute their expertise in a forum
sponsored by Glidden. That way, they didn’t just get involved in the
conversation, they actually enabled it.
That example illustrates at least one critical way social
media has changed the agency/client relationship: It’s no longer simply a
question of media buys and running clever ads (although those do have a place
in the marketing mix); an agency no longer functions simply as an agent making
purchases on a client’s behalf.
On the contrary, agencies must now help their
clients build relationships and engage with the influential people who are
already talking to their clients’ audiences. By crafting those relationships,
and helping clients manage them over time, agencies provide a service that is
much more complex and far less transactional.
“Gone are the days where clients don’t
understand social media and aren’t there at all,” says Glenn, which means that
“every skill set, every area of expertise [in the agency] needs to have
the base of social media,” not only because clients expect you to be able
to do the work but also because they look to their agency to help them navigate
Social media has, in Glenn’s words, “fundamentally
changed every aspect of marketing.” If agencies want to provide clients
with the help and guidance their clients need in this area, then agencies need
to fundamentally change as well.
Hear my conversation with Glenn in its entirety, below.
To never miss an episode, subscribe
to Marketing Smarts on iTunes.
So, do you think your agency gets social and
This marketing podcast was created and published by MarketingProfs.