Digital marketers must do more than just drop the jargon to become mainstream

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to hear Harper Reed, CTO of Barack Obama’s 2012 election campaign, address marketers on how they can use technology better, where he said: “We need to drop the ‘e’ from ‘e-marketing.’”

Ronan Shields

Reed was addressing a Direct Marketing Association (DMA) event on how to “dissolve the deficit” between digital practitioners and mainstream campaigner, in order for their wider organisations to benefit from both their skillets.

For this to happen, digital marketers need to first of all drop esoteric language which often alienates colleagues and can hinder their own objectives, according to Reed.

Arguably, he summed it up best when told delegates: “Big data is just data… we [the technology people] take care of the ‘big’ part and campaigners can then go and use this intelligently.”

In that respect, I cannot agree more but I’d argue that more must be done if marketers want to make the most of digital media and truly fulfil the potential posed by these disruptive technologies.

To demonstrate just how wide the gap is between digital practitioners and the marketing ‘mainstream’, a recent Nielsen study showed how online accounted for just 1.9 per cent of total ad spend in 2012.

As a digital marketing correspondent myself, these figures came as a sober reminder over just how far organisations have to come before calling themselves truly digital outfits.

To my point of marketers paying more than just lip service to ‘digital’, another speaker at the DMA conference was WPP’s CTO Steve Plimsoll who told attendees they have to fundamentally alter their structure legitimately proclaims themselves fit for the digital era.

Companies need to build themselves horizontally similar to start-up outfits, and away from their hierarchical legacies, in order to effectively share information and better channel their collective talents, he told attendees.

Arguably, Plimsoll’s point is a more fundamental milestone to reach than dropping esoteric language (which can always be learned by the ‘luddites’).
As wIthout this fundamental mind-shift talk of mobile- and digital-first is mere rhetoric.

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