On The Agency Front Line

Being on the front lines of the agency – client dialogue as it relates to the engaging of this all the rage topic of social media, I’ve heard some interesting words coming out of corporate marketing chiefs, especially as it relates to social marketing/media in the healthcare space. But these comments seem to also apply to a broader range of industries also based on my other conversations.

“We know its out there”.
“We know its growing”.
“We don’t want to be left behind”

Sounds downright scary. Like a horror movie and suspense novel all wrapped up into one. Are these the most interesting times for marketing or what?!

So we have this new technology-based marketing platform (social media). Clients want it. Agencies are dying to sell it. But clients don’t yet understand it and agencies can’t quite clearly communicate the ROI at this point. So for now, it seems to fall in the “necessary evil” category based on “my competitors are doing it and I better get on the train”.

Yes, there is agreement on both sides of the client-agency dynamic to embark on this journey. But how doe we overcome the obvious barriers of “I can’t buy what I don’t understand”. “What is the ROI on that again? Or how about, “Our CEO is sooooo old school and hates computers”. Good luck with that.

So it is the agency’s responsibility to take clients by the hand and lead them down the road to enlightenment. And we need to start from the top. Don’t begin the conversation with the tactic (ie. Twitter). We must start at the top and create a new box entitled Social Media (or is it Public Affairs or is it Reputation Management?) right smack beside the old box of “Traditional Media”. Whatever you call it, it is here and it is really important. Just from a PR standpoint, I’m advising clients to think of it this way: You know the tradition PR you are doing related to Media Relations? Well, you just doubled your program because an equal effort must be targeted directly to your end user, aka Joe Consumer.

So let’s get this party started. But first, let’s address the very first line of issues (understanding and ROI) and after that, create an entirely new box and start dealing with it.