Leading-Edge Marketing

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Leading-Edge Marketing

I am not used to being the person who looks at the new and suggests that the old school has a lot of value left in it—that businesses shouldn’t abandon the old for the new. I may have been cutting edge when I bought my first PC over a car or worked for an electronic news service that turned out to be a precursor to the web—and way ahead of its time—and even when the firm started desktop publishing on the PC.

Yet now Canright Communications is decidedly leading edge. Not cutting edge and certainly not bleeding edge. As an example, we began the February 2010 issue of Canright Communicates, our newsletter, like this:

When new innovations hit and catch fire, they are exciting partly because they fill a need, and partly because they are new. As each new tool takes hold, the old tools, such as steady email, take a back seat. But just because they are in the background doesn’t mean they are not necessary. And just because it’s familiar doesn’t mean it’s not useful and valuable. Nowadays, many people check their email before they officially start their day. The fact remains: email is still popular.

When I started using email, I barely had anyone to email to. Initially, I could email to others on CompuServe and then only to others on SprintMail. Email was among the first electronic communications medium to open up and interconnect, and maybe that’s why I still believe email is still the single medium that powers online communication, social media included.

I’m not alone either. Bloomberg BusinessWeek came out with a report on online marketing this week, focusing on collaboration, multichannel marketing, and personalization. I liked it because it’s on “online marketing” more than “social media” or “email marketing,” and the report is more transitional than transformational. More leading edge, in other words. More online marketing as a whole than social media as the future.

In my leading edge way, I like the report’s focus on multi-channel marketing. I find the report’s marketing metrics language tedious, but the overall point is sound. Here’s the quote, in leading edge fashion, that I think makes it the best:

Modern marketers are moving toward integrating offline and online activities, with the goal of creating a full spectrum, single-view capability. Marketers are quickly coming to the realization that the greatest value to be had from investing precious marketing dollars is in the integration of effectiveness and optimization: Knowing what works, in which channels, and targeting individual customer behavior in each channel across multiple touch points. Integration, collaboration, effectiveness, and optimization together comprise the wide-angle viewfinder executives and managers increasingly use to stay ahead of the competition as they get the biggest bang for their budget.

Check out the leading-edge words and phrases in that: “integration” of old and new, “knowing what works,” even “optimization.” Those indicate ways to lead toward what’s new.

The next leading-edge point comes from internet marketing pioneer Ken McCarthy, who says online marketing, in the end, is all about conversion, and conversion really boils down to copywriting—”old school” direct marketing copywriting at that.

I really am not a retro Luddite but a transitional thinker. I prefer to build on the best of what is and lead to what’s next. Communications media is going through its biggest transition since Gutenberg. It’s a great time to be in the marketing and media businesses.