DM searches for peak performance

Digitas’ Solomons says that every dollar must go farther in an economic downturn

Q: What challenges have arisen for marketers in the past year?

A: Today, there’s a performance out­come associated with every dollar spent. Especially in this economy, every dollar has to multitask. It’s got to build brand, drive preference and drive purchase in­tent — but it’s also got to drive purchase. Whether that’s a client that’s in a direct sales model or more retail-oriented or in the automotive space, you need to under­stand exactly what your spend is doing to drive perception shifts or get someone to a showroom or to walk in and ask for your product.

Q: How are consumers interacting with brands differently today?

A: I think consumers are aggressively tuning out those brands with which they have no affinity or affiliation. I think you’ve got to find the currency and the utility to provoke the consumer to want to build that affiliation with you. I think that’s why you see so much grassroots success on the social sites because there’s a lot more affiliation proactively being built by consumers.

Q: How can brands better reach those judicious consumers?

A: We, as marketers, grew up on the direct marketing side always thinking about getting the best customers and asking, “How do we get them to be more loyal to us?” We believe that in today’s environment we need to be a loyal brand vs. looking for loyal custom­ers. Loyal brands are those that deliver utility and value and listen harder and try to serve consumers at every interac­tion. It goes back to every dollar having to multitask.

Q: What has changed the most since you started at Digitas in 2000?

A: The business was focused on Web site builds and was a hodgepodge of technolo­gy, production and marketing. Now, we’re seeing a blurring of media and creativity. Media is about distribution and under­standing the role content plays, as well as really understanding what’s going to drive performance for clients.

Q: What does this mean for young marketing employees that are entering the agency world today?

A: If you’re a young talent today, the amount of knowledge and experience you need to have to sit across from a decision maker and actually add value is exponentially more. If you’re an account executive, that’s a lot of experience you have to cram in in just a couple years to add substance.

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Q: What is your strategy moving forward with new business?

A: New business has always been a big focus for us, but too many times you see companies very focused on the external marketplace, and they’re spending a lot of money and resources to acquire new clients. That is obviously a huge part of how we grow, but equally important is the way we serve our existing clients. Most of our growth year over year comes from more of an up-sell. If you deliver value for your clients and bring ideas and help them drive their business, you’ll be successful.

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