Monday, January 23, 2012

Grits, Lasanga and Won-Ton Soup. And Red Velvet cupcakes for dessert.

Five chefs make a meal together.

Each one is on his or her own, with his or her own ideas about what makes a good meal. And his or her own particular strengths, specialties and abilities.

Naturally, each of them wants to be the Big Dog in the Kitchen.

Sounds a lot like marketing efforts I've seen. There's an ad agency for the ads, a graphic designer or firm for the collateral, a digital firm (or maybe just a "web guy") for the web site, online ads and e-mails, and someone doing the public relations - maybe a firm and maybe just somebody internally who isn't too busy.

That's a lot of competition. And it's easy to see how each of them could sincerely believe that their particular channel is the best for the client. (Just look how often you read some digital agency executive proclaim that print is dead or television is dead or social media is the only thing that matters anymore.)

Marketing by Committee can be a lot like those five chefs making a meal. Together, but apart.

I'm not really sure of the reasons for this kind of approach, but I would guess there are many. One certainly would be that it would appear to be cost-efficient. Which it most certainly is not. Then again, how often do you run across a firm that can provide all of those services in an affordable manner?

One thing that happens is that the client might turn to their web firm for collateral and advertising. Mistake. A web design firm can't do advertising as well as an ad agency as a general rule. Nor can an ad agency generally design and program a web site as well as a web firm. So that's a mistake too. Sometimes clients will get their PR firm to handle the advertising, web and/or collateral. Many PR firms offer it, but most simply farm it out to a freelancer or another firm. So where's the savings?

Almost nobody does everything well, so there's a real good argument for having a team of experts working on your behalf. Certainly I know of at least one network of specialist firms who know how to work together and can do it in an non-competitive environment.

But in any case, one very simple way to make sure everybody is Rowing in the Same Direction is to have a very clear brand position. Actually, this is a hell of a good idea whether you have one agency or five. Or even if you do the work in-house. A clear brand position can ensure that everybody involved in the effort is Reading From the Same Sheet Music.

(While they are all Rowing in the Same Direction, of course . . . )

Almost nothing can be as cost-efficient as a clearly defined brand. With that in hand, it's not hard for those separate-but-equal team players to work together. With the same goal in mind. Investing in brand development or brand clarification is what's known in the biz as a "Hell of a Good Investment."

So OK guys. Let's get it together. Tonight we're all doing Chinese.

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