Digital Directions: The New Marketing Framework
The axiom is old but true: In order for digital media initiatives to be most effective, they must fully exploit unique "digital" characteristics. This is as true for marketing as it is for product development. Putting a PDF of a print catalog online just doesn't cut it anymore.
Three essential aspects of the digital landscape will redefine marketing's role:
1. Dynamic Delivery: Digital media can be dynamically delivered, enabling both timeliness and relevance of information. Annual distribution of static media—such as printed catalogs—is becoming increasingly irrelevant to audiences accustomed to real-time information access. The annual print catalog production cycle needs to go the way of the daisy-wheel printer.
2. Social Interaction: A key characteristic of digital media is its ability to support social interaction: Audiences can talk back—and talk to each other. The age of social media has challenged many long-held assumptions regarding marketing. Audiences want more than access to information: They want to participate.
To provide a venue for this type of social interaction, publishers will need to develop Web presences focused in those subject areas (the so-called "verticals") in which they are especially strong, and to actively engage with their audiences in these communities of interest. These Web experiences need to be more than e-commerce interactions. Audiences demand value from all Web experiences whether or not they actually buy content. Publishers that do not have dominant presences in a subject domain may find it difficult to successfully generate audiences for such a community.
3. Disintermediation. Traditionally, marketing has reached its audiences through intermediaries: mass-media channels and distributors. Published reviews got the word out, and distributors got the product out. Networked, digital media allows publishers to engage directly with their audiences, without necessarily the need for intermediaries. While published reviews and distribution partners are still critically important, publishers can—and should—directly engage with their customers. If they don't, someone else will.