I’ve always been a staunch believer that optimizing total cost of ownership is the real key to success in programmed marketing like email and search. TCO takes into account technology costs, all loaded vendor costs, any innovation done in-house, and all the other costs of operating specific to email.
Not many in the space look at it this way. The vendors look at it from a technology and service enablement advantage, but don’t they simply sell case studies of how they’ve done it for another company? Marketers look at it as a cost management exercise in many cases, since the cost of real change is rarely allowed to be amortized over a few years.
When I go to conferences and hear the case studies and the hallway conversations, I am even more convinced that email marketing hasn’t evolved as much as we believe. It is still considered a pedestrian fulfillment function in most organizations. There are still many discussions of best practices -- many of which have been used for over a decade.
What gets lost is real innovation. It can’t be purely vendor-driven.
I would challenge our industry -- most importantly, the marketers vested in this email marketing space -- to raise their game and think long and hard about a strategy for the channel that will outlive your role as an email marketer and will survive when you are vice president of marketing.
-- Marketing technology is an enabler, but can you make it a differentiator -- either through influence, organic innovation or cooperation partnerships? Or is the best you can hope for competitive parity?
-- Sourcing is a catalyst, but can you support a sustainable vendor/contractor infrastructure where you create some competitive advantage? Some think of this as strategic partnerships, some as cost management. I believe one of the keys is to develop a culture of people who can get the absolute most value and insight out of partners and vendors without overpaying.
-- Marketing intelligence is the baseline. You cannot expect to leapfrog a competitor if you don’t develop processes and methodologies that allow you to react faster and smarter and minimize the risk of your decisions. This is marketing intelligence: not an outsourced function, but an intellectual asset you must grow and develop.
We need marketers to step out of the “manage campaigns” mode and really begin to press vendors and innovators to create advantages that are sustainable, unique and scalable.
Jack Welch’s directness has always been fascinating to me: “If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.” What are you doing this year to build your framework to innovate and create an advantage, outside of optimizing communication plans?