Editorial: Straddling the online-offline divide is DM's forté

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I threw a birthday party for my fabulous boyfriend last week and used Evite, an online invitation tool, to get the word out. However, the mister's friends are mostly baby boomers, and I needed to actually pick up the phone (how quaint) and call a handful of invitees who simply aren't on e-mail or not on e-mail regularly enough to trust that method of communication.

That struck me as strange. My life is pretty wired:texting, checking e-mail on the iPhone, constantly Googling for facts and figures. I'm used to Evites, because most of my contemporaries announce summer rooftop barbeques, Christmas parties and other soirées using it.

We're at an interesting inflection point: My 80-year-old mother gets online regularly — mostly to e-mail her brood rather than to surf the web — but there's a segment of people a few years my senior who aren't in that mode at all. Marketers need to address all of these segments to make sure they are reaching customers. There is a danger in being too heavily focused on the next bright and shiny thing (hello, social media).

It's true that we in the media and marketing industry tend to be fairly savvy in the digital realm and have been traversing the online landscape for years. However, there's a wide range of competencies within US corporations of those who understand and can translate that world for consumers and businesses. It is not surprising that data analytics experts in particular are in high demand.

This issue of the magazine includes our second annual DMNews Agency Business Report, a detailed look at the direct and digital marketing agency sector. Recruiter Jerry Bernhart summed up the need for experts who understand how to straddle an environment that integrates the traditional with the digital. Noting a recent placement with a direct agency, he says, “They wanted someone adept with online measurement tools. They wanted someone who could sit down with clients and explain it all to them.” Bernhart pointed out that an emphasis on digital and online skill sets continues to prevail.

That is good news for direct and digital marketers, whose analytics expertise gives them the advantage when going into those client meetings and new business pitches.

In 2010, signs point to new business pitches as marketers slowly but surely recover from the recession hangover and begin to spend again. Those marketers and their agency partners that can address the spectrum of choices and communications channels will have the edge. Acxiom CMO Michael Darviche sums it up this way: “Clients are experimenting with many forms, techniques and devices, a process that requires dedicating funds to find the approach that is right for their customer base and that brings together their digital and offline communications.”
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