Editor's Note: Your Chocolate’s in My Peanut Butter!
While DMA09 might have been the Direct Marketing Association's most lightly attended show ever, I can report having some of the most productive meetings ever in my 17 years at this annual show. In particular, I got the chance to have some very interesting conversations about how direct marketing and branding need to work together like never before—discussions that continued when I got back from San Diego.
This merger (or collision?) is causing power struggles inside and outside marketing organizations, as what once were two separate budgets—handled by two separate teams—are becoming one. So, is branding's chocolate in direct marketing's peanut butter or vice versa? And if it doesn't matter—and it really shouldn't to marketers themselves—can't they be brought together to create a product as lasting as Reese's Peanut Butter Cups?
If you've read consultant and author Richard Rosen's book, "Convergence Marketing," then you know his answer is an unequivocal "yes." The challenge, he told me at DMA09, is that brand marketers and direct marketers don't speak the same language and haven't always had the highest opinions of one another's work for decades.
Let's skip the semantics part, for what appears to be the bigger issue: turf wars. Clearly, the unification of two mostly warring clans will not be a smooth process. If this movement needed a Hollywood movie title, "There Will Be Blood" is probably not too far off. And yet companies need these two processes, and thus their practitioners, to walk hand in hand in order to be successful in the new customer-driven marketplace.
And so what we've got is a race by brand marketers to fill in the direct response gaps on their résumés with digital marketing prowess; by their nature, most digital campaigns bring in measurability and at least the option for accountability. For marketers with direct response backgrounds, the way to stay competitive—both as an employer and the employed—is to learn branding and digital media skills. Based on hiring trends (as noted in this month's cover story, "Big Ideas ..."), companies want marketers who bring the full complement of skills to the table. To create a successful multichannel campaign, companies need these jacks-of-all-trades, and probably a smattering of consultants or vendors who specialize in the more technical media platforms.
If you haven't already, now's the time to take a look at your (and your company's) résumé to see if you've got any gaps to fill.