It’s All About the Content
Apr 16, 2009
I have a bone to pick with ADWEEK about this article, “Digital Shops Embrace Cheap Chic.” For all the good points made by Mr. Morrissey and the agency execs he interviewed, it missed the ultimate point: It’s always been about the content. And the tech—whether the deepest Flash or the simplest HTML—should be whatever supports the content without confusing, diluting or outshining it. (To make matters worse, the article refers to this re-focusing on content as “cheap chic.” As if the crux of good marketing was really ever about how much money you spent.)
Your Website: Is It “Ms. Right” or “Ms. Right Now”
There was a time, not too long ago, when irrational exuberance was as prevalent on the web as it was in the stock market. It was the peak of cool hunting. Just getting attention on the web was the goal, in lieu of a measured approach comparing enumerated goals to metrics. We are as familiar as other digital agencies with what clients’ priorities looked like then:
Whether it’s our temporarily low economic state or the enlightenment of Web 2.0—or, most likely, some combination—cool hunting is disappearing. “Looks cool” has become either: a) A given. If you couldn’t make something cool, you wouldn’t be at the table; or b) Self-indulgent2. Clients’ priorities now look a lot more like this:
And this drives home again how this article gets the motivation for building social web platforms completely wrong. It’s not about cheap chic, which implies a flavor-of-the-month, Ms.-Right-Now, cool-hunting mentality. It’s about creating ROI driven solutions. The new tactics of Web 2.0 are just new tools digital agencies can use when the strategy fits.
That’s right… in some cases a site built on the backend of Ning or WordPress can be exactly what’s needed strategically to support the content and reach the target. And, let’s not kid ourselves, in other cases the solution that’s called for is the cool looking, deep Flash engagement that blows the award folks away3.
The important thing is to know which solution solves the marketing problem at hand, and not just employ one or the other because it’s en vogue.
1 A Deeply Rooted Philosophy This isn’t a new idea by any means. I could’ve titled this post “Advancing Your Brand vs. Advancing Tech, Part 3.” Read Part 1 and Part 2 to see why. But I’m trying something new to see if it finds more eyes this way. (Now that’s truth in advertising.)
2 Design Is Still Important Lucky for marketers, agencies and consumers alike, “looks cool” in the Flash sense is not the only way to be well-designed. We are visual creatures, so being well-designed is still an important part of the marketing equation, regardless of medium.
3 A New, Better Award I’ve always been a fan of the Business Week/Architectural Record Awards, where winners are judged not just on aesthetics, but how those aesthetics actually worked for the business occupying the space. I don’t remember any advertising/marcom awards that require proof of ROI or effective tie between strategy, design and results. More often than not, The FWA is talked about as the pinnacle honor in digital agencies… and they don’t require documentation at all. I’d love to hear about awards that do reward the pieces that work if they exist. If I don’t, I’m going to see what I can do to fill the void myself.
Watching TV as a kid, I used to run to the bathroom during the shows so I could make it back for the commercials. Those days launched me down a path that included layout and writing for the college paper; communications strategy for political campaigns; marketing strategy and graphic design for Gensler (a global design and architecture firm); and the implementation of new programming, animation and design techniques for Centerline.
Today I specialize in content marketing strategy and building digital deliverables to execute those strategies. But it’s about more than just creating killer digital content. At Centerline, we help clients succeed in the digital marketplace using a three-pronged approach: strategic (message creation, brand strategy), tactical (design, development), and analytical (measurement and adaptation). This experience-tested approach allows me to build campaigns that are both well-designed and effective for clients like IBM, GE and National Instruments.