Digital Directions: The New Marketing Framework
A year ago, I wrote a column examining the problems that occur when publishing organizations place marketing departments in technology silos, without access to digital assets and tools that would otherwise make marketing programs more effective.
The situation seems only to have gotten more dire. As digital media becomes increasingly important, so does the strategic potential of marketing organizations. Yet, often, marketing groups still are relegated to secondary status within the publishing organization.
Marketing organizations have never been busier—with activities that have vaguely defined strategic objectives:
• Web sites. Web marketing programs generally have uncertain goals and metrics (incremental revenue? brand development?), and therefore get minimally funded. Publisher's Web sites oftentimes resemble lonely junkyards of once "important" and now ignored technology fads. Audio podcasts anyone?
• Print catalogs. Works of art though they may be, annual print catalogs are a poor way to represent publishing activities that occur throughout the year. Woe to the book that does not make the catalog "deadline"—it might have to wait for the next cycle. The print catalog model needs to be rethought to support more dynamic distribution of this information.
• Distribution of metadata. Is the distribution of catalog metadata to channel partners the dynamic delivery model we need to replace the print catalog?
Not exactly. While metadata distribution in standard formats such as ONIX is required to integrate with both retail and digital distributors, this data does not "sell" the title in the same way the catalog does. Further, this type of data syndication diminishes the role and value of the publisher's brand and represents a strategic risk for publishers.
The Need for Change
The digital transformation of the publishing landscape demands a fundamental rethinking of marketing's strategic role, and the methods by which it achieves its goals. Otherwise, its value will become increasingly nebulous, notwithstanding an increased level of activity.