This afternoon, I had a great visit with the New Media Club at IU Kokomo. The club is made up of students, both new and graduating, as well as the professors that are leading the charge. The discussion was the business of new media.
I remember when I first started DK New Media, a well-known colleague told me to forget working on all the aspects of a company’s marketing efforts and focus on one area. I argued that this was the problem with agencies… they had micro-focus and expertise in one area of focus – branding, design, public relations, email marketing – but didn’t have enough understanding of how their efforts impacted efforts upstream and downstream.
Some examples in various areas of focus:
- Graphic design – great designers understand how to layer their files to make it simple for a web developer to slice and dice and output graphics for the sites they’re implementing.
- Videography – great videographers understand how to optimize the pages they publish to and understand advertising methodologies to extend and promote the reach of their videos.
- Email Marketing – great email marketers recognize the opportunity to drive subscriptions through social media so that they can build better lists and drive more sales.
- Search Engine Optimization – great SEO consultants also understand conversion optimization and content marketing best practices to ensure that the ranking leads to the traffic actually converting.
Marketing as Manufacturing
As you know, manufacturing has shifted offshore to developing nations. Building a small part, replicating the part, and building the infrastructure to output millions of parts is simple in developing nations. While part manufacturing has moved offshore, North America is still building assembly factories and still driving innovation in manufacturing. As a result, the creators, designers and engineers still have jobs… but the manufacturers don’t.
Marketing is next. We work with several offshore companies who do research, content, design and development. The quality of the work is every bit as good as what we can produce locally, only they do it more efficiently. We can’t possibly compete. As a result, the answer is to leverage collaboration tools and extend our resources offshore.
Our marketing team directs, creates, and implements the overall strategy. It’s honestly where we’re best utilized. Our offshore resources do amazing work, both extending our resources and helping us to scale our company without driving up costs significantly. It’s not without its bumps, but it’s been successful and we continue to grow and get positive feedback from clients.
That’s a warning to marketers out there. If you decide you want to specialize rather than understanding how your expertise fits into an overall package, you’re as replaceable as any other cog in the production line. If you disagree, you’re kidding yourself. Personally, I know there are far better designers than me, better developers than me, and writers than me… but where I compete is how to put the designs, development and the content together to drive results. My passion, creativity and experience across the spectrum has been my competitive advantage.
A few years later and that colleague’s agency has extended his team beyond their core competency and into upstream and downstream efforts. He’s got a great firm and that adaptation will continue to drive his success in his field.
If you’re a marketer stuck in a job where you’re not learning across the spectrum of marketing strategies, technologies and discoveries… do yourself a favor and begin teaching yourself, experimenting, and implementing wherever you can. Become indispensable by understanding how to engineer and assemble the strategy! Marketers who understand the big picture are in huge demand right now… the specialists come and go.