Digital Marketing Should Jam

There are so many talented, smart and committed practitioners in Digital Marketing bringing different perspectives, channels and practices together. Rather than focusing on the concept of Competition we should look at ways to Jam using the language, spirit and business of music as our example.

I’ve been asked frequently who we compete with and who I admire in Digital Marketing. For the latter, I usually point people towards my Twitter, Facebook or Friend Feed pages to see who I follow. I understand the point of inquiry around competition–it helps others form context and points of reference in an emergent area and one they may not fully understand.

The unfortunate tyranny of the framework is that it suggests we’re engaged in battle. For the most part, with the exception of a few big agency networks, we run into other digital marketing firms that we admire in actual, head-to-head competitive reviews with so little frequency that it’s hard to call them competition.

This idea of competition was brought into focus for me last week when we had a “Tweetup”–a meet-up organized over the Twitter channel by those that follow each other–and two writers covering the digital beat for “competitive” advertising trades entered at the same time. Both are people of talent, intelligence, wit and foresight, which is why they’re covering digital. Both are adding significantly to the education and debate around digital marketing. But there was that whole awkward idea of competition that made others wonder if they could be in the same room together. In fact they could and should, which is a point on which I’ll conclude this post.

Fact is, most of “the competition” is status-quo and traditional marketing that’s finding it’s way–in many cases kicking and screaming–into digital. The resistance comes from deep within client organizations in areas like procurement and accounting/finance where new media fails to comply with their way of measurement and valuation, and therefore either is relegated to small tests destined to failure or worse, to satisfy the limits of the existing framework which favors traditional methods and partners. You can find strong resistance in areas of traditional shops with much to lose in the migration and dislocating agents facilitating the shift through new models and greater results. They’ve become masters at slowing change for a future budget cycle through devices such as upfronts and long-lead production and media schedules that commit budgets up to a year in advance. Meanwhile, the digerati in those shops site “boulder fatigue” as the top reason for talent flight–people tired of pushing a rock up the hill in a shop where value for digital is represented by thunderous executive statements but little organizational and functional commitment.

There are strong signals that all of this is about to change in no small part by loud and public demand by Client-side most senior marketing management that have been following the changes in consumer behavior.

To the point of the post, Digital Marketing is about innovation and staying ahead or at least abreast of the consumer. I’d compare it more to music, which thrives on evolution and changes–even if it’s remixing–and has been able to assign commercial value to this. Rather than compete, I’d love to sit in on Jam Sessions with other digital marketers. None of us will rule with enough marketshare to fully capitalize on the strength of our individual thinking. And, no single digital “artist” will appeal to every marketer taste. So we should jam more together, or even do sit-ins with some of the old-school deans, like you see with Neal Young and Santana.

For those in the conference space, consider traditional/digital jam sessions like what the Silicon Valley does with “hackathons.” Everyone learns faster and it’s a great experience. In the meantime, if you find your way to San Francisco, our Lounge is open, the ideas and drinks will flow and we’ll jam. All serious digital marketers welcome.

At Real Branding we havean event we call “Beer 2.0” the last Thursday of each month, which is a great way to jam. Ping us to get in. We’ll also be releasing our new website where the agency collective will be pushing the watercooler conversation out into the public space. What are the ways you’re rocking the Jam? Please post below.

And, I’ll leave you with this collaborative inspiration, Neal Young and Springsteen jamming on the Dylan classic “All Along The Watchtower:”

2 responses to “Digital Marketing Should Jam

  1. nice post Mark. Totally agree. We have more to gain through collaboration than competition. To that end, I have a monthly call with my peer at one of my largest competitors. We share info with each other to help us both grow digital while at the same time fiercely competing with each other for share of America’s stomachs. Also, I recommend you check out Jamming. Cool book on driving business creativity in similar ways to how jazz muscians jam. Recommended by my old boss, Michael Tchao, and something you might enjoy. You can buy it here:

  2. Thanks for the comment and book suggestion, Kevin. Book is ordered and will post a follow-up review.

    You co-opetition is admirable. I’ll bet there’s more of that intelligence sharing happening within industries among digital marketers than other company functions. It’s built into Web 2.0 and Social Media: you get information from others instead of institutions. You probably have better, more trusted resources as a result of your combined learning too, so your companies are benefiting from the sharing.

    I think the iMedia events do a great job of getting digital marketers to share with others. We also host our won Digital Leadership Summits every 6-months and bring our clients together around a specific subject as much to sync on new thinking as to socialize and share best practices and trade learning with other leaders. Ping me if you want an invitation to our next event. Cheers!

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