It’s the same thing Monday through Friday. After being boxed in the elevator in an immense box-shaped building at my box-like cubicle, I receive a message on my computer box asking me to think outside the box. Ironically, marketing is about change.
By change, I don’t mean the ingenious methods marketers devise to pilfer your pennies (I’ll save that for, “How Marketeers Ruined My Life.”) The change I’m talking about stems from personal experience with three challenges facing enterprise-level marketing departments.
This has to do with business conducted on the Web, which – in my opinion – is no reason for these prima donnas to strut around like lordly little peacocks. But they do, and can, because e-commerce creates potential profits for those companies used to offline business models.
High-volume, low profit margins may make e-commerce more of a liability than an asset. Sometimes, these departments are created because everyone else is doing it. And, (no matter what they decide to call themselves: E-commerce, eCommerce, e-com, Enlightened Ones) if the past is any measure, e-commerce will continue to grow exponentially. This is good news for interactive media designers, Web designers, IT professionals, buyers, and the horde of creative services generating Web content.
Companies spend money in this area. This aspect of marketing will continue to create new positions because computer technology is just a spiffy word for change. Pun intended as this technology is expensive.
Integrating e-commerce into the marketing strategies of traditional marketing tactics presents further challenges. Retailers struggle to reconcile web products and services with their retail locations. I get complaints that what is offered online is not available in stores and vice versa. That’s because brick and mortar and e-commerce remain two divergent spheres. Anyone interested in marketing and technology would do well to figure out a way to marry these divergent worlds with consistent brand messaging.
Before I even get to my big office that looks like a giant box, and before I get into my box-shaped elevator that takes me to the box-like cubicle, I sit in traffic. That doesn’t go away when I get to the office. For those of you unaccustomed to large corporate settings, there is a department that usually works in tandem with print production. It’s called traffic. They are a corporate sneaker-net. They wear out their shoes hand-delivering files person to person, seeking approvals, sign offs, answers to questions, and upsetting everyone in sight. Traffic’s job is to get creative approved on deadline.
It’s here that huge strides have been made toward electronic-job-trafficking systems. It’s not easy when hundreds of people are involved. But it’s necessary.
A well-oiled process translates into productivity. As you can imagine, marketing calendars are seasonal and march on from Black Friday sales events to last-minute holiday shipping with or without you. It is frustrating when the paperwork takes longer than the job itself. It’s like real traffic: stopping at a red light when you’re late for work is annoying but vital.
Traffic departments are still using folders stuffed like holiday slobs, dropping them in (you guessed it) boxes, and losing them. Technology exists to transform this outmoded form of communication, but it requires compromise.
It’s the artists, copywriters, copyeditors, and proofreaders who are lagging. Their art presupposes hard copies allowing for cartoons and scribbles in the margins.
Proofreaders, those victim souls, suffer a prickly and cussed fate because any mistake a proofer makes gets printed. Beware: Messin’ with the proofreader mentality is like kicking a sleeping bear.
Proofreaders do it with style. They use style guides, procedures, and symbols to edit accurately and quickly. But technology, designed to traffic jobs electronically, demands compromise. Whereas traffic personnel could benefit from an all-electronic system, proofreaders must reinvent themselves.
Any proofreader uncomfortable with tracked changes, electronic stickies, plain text comment boxes, and electronic media, who would like to stay employed, needs to change. Now.
Companies are forever riding the technological wave with no end in sight. My advice to those seeking a career in marketing is, in a word, digital. This is an area of marketing that, if exploited, can give you a competitive edge when combined with sound business administration principles.