Jason Falls

Jason Falls

According to an article in AdWeek and a survey conducted by recruiting firm Heidrick & Struggles, chief marketing officers are unhappy with their digital strategies. H&S polled 111 senior marketing executives at firms with $1 billion or more in annual revenues to come up with the “kinda sucks” prerogative. This essentially means they polled people who are used to spending a LOT of money on advertising who think the web space under-serves.

Apples to oranges.

Apples & Oranges - They Don't Compare
Image by TheBusyBrain via Flickr

And it’s not just the fact that digital activation is intrinsically different than traditional advertising. It’s that the entire focus and purpose of it are genetically divergent.

Traditional advertising is about a one-way line of communications. Brands blast messages to the masses in hopes a certain percentage of them buy … or recall … or think happy thoughts of them. Digital communications has now become a world more focused on conversation and engagement rather than the delivery of messaging. These are long-haul propositions.

Consumers will not trust your brand after one week of providing engaging content or compelling online material. They won’t trust your brand after one month, either. But hold down the fort for three, six or nine months, without suddenly shifting behavior or strategy, and you will start to see the growth in your investment online.

CMOs are unhappy because their attention spans are as abbreviated as their consumer’s. They want instant results, quick fixes and here and now solutions. Social media, and, similarly, online communications, is not only not an instant fix for genetic brand problems, but requires an investment of both time and resources to be played out consistently.

Simply put, CMOs should have been investing the time and attention into a long-term relationship with their customers well before the economy sagged and digital became more fiscally responsible. As such, they aren’t getting the residual benefit from creating an ongoing relationship with their most ardent fans. They see digital as a “campaign” or a short-term solution. It is … if the agency just wants to pacify the client. If you’re doing a good job for and with your client, however, you are building a digital behavior, not campaign, that proves over time that your brand can be counted on for compelling content and customer service that adds value to the online time spent by its fans.

My guess is the 111 senior marketing executives surveyed are dissatisfied because they’ve only focused on digital for three or four months. Stay the course, don’t rip and flip just because your quarter-to-quarter numbers don’t show dramatic increases and see how satisfied you are in December 2009 (one year after the original survey).

Of course, that is assuming those brands are doing it right online in the first place.

Am I wrong? Should marketing executives expect faster turnarounds and returns on their digital investments? How and why? And how slow is too slow for marketing managers you know? The comments are yours.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog and signature Explore events. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments & Reactions

Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • Carl

    Wasting time. Wasting time. This site kinda sucks but here I am, wasting time.

    Carl, from Aqua Teen Hunger Force

  • Carl

    Wasting time. Wasting time. This site kinda sucks but here I am, wasting time.

    Carl, from Aqua Teen Hunger Force

  • Carl

    Wasting time. Wasting time. This site kinda sucks but here I am, wasting time.

    Carl, from Aqua Teen Hunger Force

  • Carl

    Wasting time. Wasting time. This site kinda sucks but here I am, wasting time.

    Carl, from Aqua Teen Hunger Force

  • Carl

    Wasting time. Wasting time. This site kinda sucks but here I am, wasting time.

    Carl, from Aqua Teen Hunger Force

  • Carl

    Yea, you know, social media. Whatever. You do what you like to do I do what I like to do. I'm gonna go play the commodore 64. Mine still works.

  • Carl

    Yea, you know, social media. Whatever. You do what you like to do I do what I like to do. I'm gonna go play the commodore 64. Mine still works.

  • Carl

    Yea, you know, social media. Whatever. You do what you like to do I do what I like to do. I'm gonna go play the commodore 64. Mine still works.

  • Carl

    Yea, you know, social media. Whatever. You do what you like to do I do what I like to do. I'm gonna go play the commodore 64. Mine still works.

  • Carl

    Yea, you know, social media. Whatever. You do what you like to do I do what I like to do. I'm gonna go play the commodore 64. Mine still works.

  • Carl

    Yea, you know, social media. Whatever. You do what you like to do I do what I like to do. I'm gonna go play the commodore 64. Mine still works.

  • http://sweetpaperdoll.wordpress.com/ SaraKate

    Beth,

    Great post. I think the analogy of wading through symptoms to find the source of the issue is a good one. It is my experience that open and honest communication only leads to better relationships in social media, marketing, and in personal relationships, as well.

    Being honest can only benefit everyone involved.

    SaraKate’s last blog post..006. The Question of Attention: To Multitask or Not To Multitask

    This comment was originally posted on The Harte of Marketing

  • http://9inchmarketing.com/ Stan Phelps

    Love the analogy. How true it is? We have a saying that refers to situations where our clients and prospects only tell us parts of the story, “Garbage in, garbage out”

    Stan Phelps’s last blog post..‘System Failure’ . . . Is Advertising Dead?

    This comment was originally posted on The Harte of Marketing

  • http://web20empire.com/ Sheree Motiska

    I have long been a huge fan of telling it like it is and sharing the long line of failed attempts at doing things the “accepted way” with spewing every new “must have” product promotion at my pidddly little “list” that gets the same crap form everyone.

    It didn’t always help me gain any popularity contests and I’ve made quite a few enemies while simply trying to understand what so-called experts were telling me was effective while they did something else.

    Well, it all paid off.

    Social media is too revealing so get used to coming as you are and not trying to put on a front. There’s much to be learned when people get together and share individual pieces to a puzzle and create a big picture that works.

    @Web20Empire

    Sheree Motiska’s last blog post..The Only Must Have Social Media Element, A Blog.

    This comment was originally posted on The Harte of Marketing

  • http://www.lisahickey.com/ Lisa Hickey

    The reason, I think that we don’t tend to tell the truth in business situations is that we aren’t rewarded for doing so. In “House,” the secret leads to the “cure”. I’d like to think IRL if was that simple, but I’m not so sure. I’ve seen meetings where someone was singled out by upper management who said, “So and so made a mistake, but how great it was that they fixed it and let’s all learn from this.” But I have to tell you, it always feels condescending and awkward, and I never feel as that person is going to get a raise or a promotion * because * of that mistake.

    That said, I am still a big advocate of truth-telling. I’m just fascinated to see the implications of the proliferation of public conversations, and along with it the growing realization you will always be “found out”. Will be interesting to see if this will create a new level of tolerance for mistakes, forgiveness, openness and truth-telling, and how that will affect business and interactions in general.

    Lisa Hickey’s last blog post..Brand Predictions in Advertising & Marketing Technologies for Our Lives

    This comment was originally posted on The Harte of Marketing

  • http://www.tricitypsychology.com/blog Kathy

    Telling the truth builds trust. Certainly in our business ( providing psychology services) trust is integral to a successful outcome! Great post Beth… I love the House analogy.

    Kathy’s last blog post..Teens who chew gum get better grades

    This comment was originally posted on The Harte of Marketing

  • http://twitter.com/TDefren TDefren

    If CMOs Are Unhappy With Digital, It’s Their Own Fault, via @jasonfalls. http://tinyurl.com/d6ktaf

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • http://twitter.com/msfraust msfraust

    engage conversation RT @TDefren If CMOs Are Unhappy With Digital, It’s Their Own Fault, via @jasonfalls. http://tinyurl.com/d6ktaf

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • huangqin