Expert's Opinion

The Fix for the Online Marketing Conundrum

By Michael Weissman, SYNQY Corp. | November 4, 2013

Michael Weissman explains how to cut through on the online clutter.

Are you ramping up your online marketing?  Are you finding it more challenging than you expected?  If so, you are not alone. While marketing online and through online retailers is critical, it can be a real pain. Let’s discover why and what can be done about it.
Key Problems with Online Marketing
Marketing in the Internet age is a challenge. In the old days, when a person had a problem, they’d look up a retailer in the yellow pages and visit them. Once there, a marketer could influence that person through the retailer’s sales force or through in-store promotions and POP displays. The old way was much easier. To create awareness, brands created national ads that ran in a small number of media outlets. Marketers created hard-copy marketing materials and delivered those materials to retailers either via mail or in person. Since the content was hard copy, the physical distribution and management of that content was relatively straightforward.
Now, consumers behave vastly differently. Instead of starting with a retailer, shoppers do their own online research for products well in advance of visiting a store (either online or off-line). They read customer reviews and gather data in new places and in new ways. Plus, they try to engage with the marketer’s brand at any time of day or night, on any device and from any location.  This is true regardless of whether the products are high or low involvement or whether they are B2B or B2C offerings.
As a result, today’s marketers must use more marketing channels, in more locations and through more diverse methods to get their marketing message in front of the consumer. The distributed nature of this new marketing today creates its own set of problems. Marketers have to communicate through others (resellers, bloggers, media outlets, event organizers, and even consumers) more than ever to promote their brands and spread the word about their brand. It is a logistical nightmare. In online retailing, each retailer has a different system to receive their digital content and updating those systems is complex and problematic. This is especially true when those retailers combine online presence and a brick and mortar store.
Worse yet, as soon as marketers distribute their branded content to their partners, marketers lose complete control over where their content goes and whether it is accurate, up-to-date or still relevant. Expired promotions, out-of-date data sheets or marketing copy and inaccurate product information become pervasive. The result is a disjointed, off-brand experience over which the brand’s digital marketer feels helpless.
Not controlling the online brand presence has ripple effects on other areas of marketing and business operations:
·       Trustworthiness drops. An inconsistent brand image sends the wrong message – especially when partners are becoming more important than ever.
·       Search gets cluttered. Old content gets in the way of marketer’s new messages. Out of date content often gets ranked higher than new, more relevant messages.
·       Legal hot water.Expired promotional or regulated content that still exists on partner sites can put companies in jeopardy or force the company to honor out-of-date offers.
·       Poor storytelling.Brand messages get delivered in fragments, forcing the customer to “connect the dots” for a bigger brand story on their own.
·       Blind to ROI. Real content tracking and ROI remains elusive. Little usable data on where and how the brand is available to marketers.
Clearly, digital marketers have been set up to fail.This can be a particularly hard blow to personal care and household product brands, where thorough and up-to-date product information is critical for guiding customers through the purchase process. 
The Core Issue
Managing distributed content is expensive. The question is why? Unfortunately, it costs 10x more to manage and update content than it costs to create it. Therefore, most companies don’t manage those logistics well. As a result, marketers operate more like brand “launchers” that lose control over their content once “launched” or sent to others. The root cause behind the logistics problem is that marketers are sending static marketing content that is disconnected and uncontrolled by the brand owner. When new content is created, marketers ask partners (if they know who and where they are) to replace the old content with new content. Marketers (and their sales organizations) do this almost entirely manually. This arcane approach of sending files to partners and hoping they keep them up-to-date hasn’t been improved in over 20 years. Plus, the increase in the number of marketing locations, social media touchpoints, press outlets, etc. have continued to expand to unmanageable numbers.
What’s on the digital marketer’s wish list?  Full time remote brand management, real-time updates, complete tracking, and the dream capability to “set it and forget it”– eliminating the need to constantly be monitoring the web for outdated logos, images and offers. 
Fortunately, new technology has been created that allows digital marketers to reclaim control over their brands online – even when sharing content on websites they don’t own.

A New Approach
The secret to managing marketing content has always been to centrally control the marketing message. This hasn’t changed. What has changed is the ability to control that message (and related marketing materials) – even when that message has been distributed to others.   New remote content management solutions allow for marketers to distribute content to each end location on the web including reseller sites, press articles, sponsored event sites, blogs and social media. What’s different is this content is packaged as Smart Brand Assets instead of a static pieces of content. When converted to Smart Brand Assets, the content becomes intelligently linked back to the marketer through the Internet. This allows the marketer to knows where each piece of content goes, it knows whether it is up-to-date and whether it should be displayed or removed if out-of-date. Marketers can now update the content remotely, track its performance and otherwise maintain complete remote control over their content – everywhere it goes online.
Remotely managing marketing content eliminates a multitude of problems: brand content stays current, logistic costs are removed, ROI is tracked and delivered, search gets cleaned up and optimized and distributed promotions stop becoming legal or financial time bombs.  
About the Author
Michael is a SYNQY co-founder and the company’s Chairman and CEO where he is responsible for driving the company and product vision. A 25-year high technology industry veteran and award-winning brand marketer, Michael has over 17 years managing web-based solutions. Over his career, he has generated $700 million in revenue growth, grown share in over 15 different markets and helped his last start-up deliver a 6x return on investment to investors on a $190M exit.

Before starting SYNQY, Michael ran five other organizations and held management roles at Toshiba, Canon, Visioneer, CopperGate, and Sigma Designs. He has also been an advisor to over 50 leading technology companies including Adobe, Apple, Amazon, HP, Symantec, and EDS. Michael also Chairman of Sequoia Technologies, an Internet Marketing agency.

Michael received an MBA from University of California, Irvine and has an undergraduate business degree from Babson College.

Outside of work, Michael is an award-winning composer and co-author of The Paradox of Excellence, which is translated into seven languages and appeared in Harvard Business Review and Fast Company. Michael also apparently is incapable of regularly breaking 100 in golf.

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