Even the longest journey starts with a single leap into the unknown


Falling for brand advertising.

I started out over 30 years ago in brand advertising creating  TV, press, poster and radio campaigns in the age of mass marketing, when the madmen of Madison Avenue arrived in London. (The concept was everything and the needs, wants and desires of the target audience were of little consequence.)

Relating to direct marketing

As CRM became all the rage, I moved into direct marketing and discovered the educational and life-changing impact of customer response: a campaign I worked on cost the client £24k and pulled in £750m of investor funding. (After that ‘Wish I was on commission moment,” working with the client’s product and service developers to find better ways to serve the segmented needs of customers became an obsession.)

Getting into integration

After more than a decade in the business working for 500 of the world’s biggest brand names and trying, in vain, to get my agencies to be the first to go all-in on the integrated marketing communications front, I thought I had marketing sussed. And then along came digital.

Digital re-wires my brain

For 20 years, I have been trying to help clients, fellow professionals and university students make sense of the most mercurial marketing phenomena yet discovered: digital marketing in all its complexity.  (I now pray to the gods of situational optimism and customer channel preferences for guidance.) As many companies struggle, at both the strategic and tactical level, to get a firm and cost-effective grip on how SEO, PPC, Social media engagement, Affiliate, UX, video, viral, interactive POS and mobile et al might work for them in the real world,  marketing pundits are already touting, content marketing, big data, native advertising, systemic testing, cross-channel integration and attribution modelling. The manufacturing of ideas is way ahead of our capacity to change and adapt our old ways. While it does appear that mobile may become some kind of stemcell-esque factor in the development of a unifying theory for brand, direct and digital marketing, the age of individuated and contextualised data-driven content marketing is as elusive as ever. It may yet require a complete change in supplier-client-agency-customer relationships.

Insight and blind optimism

In my lectures about the future of digital marketing, I am always forced to admit that there are tantalising glimpses of what may yet come to pass but absolutely no guarantees. What I do know is that a lot of very smart people are thinking about marketing in the digital age and have some extraordinary perspectives that are worth considering, sharing and, if I am honest, using to inform my own thinking.

Not enough hours in the day

We are all so busy working out how best to reach and engage with audiences in the fragmented mediascape and trying to deal with real-time optimisation of ROMI in an increasingly competitive market place. We don’t have time to explore all the research papers, market reports, presentations, keynote speeches, books, journals, slideshares, webcasts and Ted Talks. As we look to develop the marketing’s quantum theory of everything, we need to follow Einstein’s example and try standing on the shoulders of giants in order to look that bit further into the future. So here goes…