Mitch Joel (left) is President of the “traditional” digital advertising agency, Twist Image. Joseph Jaffe (right) is the Chief Interruption Officer of Powered which bills itself as a social media agency. As the two debate over which kind of agency will best serve brands, the issue of how social media fits into the overall marketing plan comes into sharp focus. You can listen to their debate HERE
Throughout the debate Joel describes today's marketing challenge as managing a client's message through a variety of digital channels with social media providing some new ones. “At the end of the day where does the output of all of these social media activities happen to be? They are happening online. They are happening in the digital channel.”
In contrast, Jaffe sees social media as more than a source of new channels, he sees it as a new source of strategy, “This is a different way to market. This is a different way to do business. This is a different set of rules of engagement and terms and conditions and new metrics are going to be required.”
This contrast alone would not be that meaningful if the overall new strategies Jaffe advocates were not so provocative. During the debate Jaffe offered three hypotheses that contrast his vision:
“Three hypotheses; one retention becomes the new acquisition, two customer services becomes not just a but the key strategic device differentiator, and hypothesis number three the real role of social media is retention not acquisition.”
"Retention is the new acquisition?" This is a radical departure from most digital marketing strategy which is based on results, measurably, and ROI. But in a world where most clients can be easily identified and their loyalty is worth far more than acquiring yet one more customer elsewhere, is Jaffe on to something?
For most companies, Joel’s approach will require fewer adjustments in the marketing plan as social media is simply blended into the existing marketing mix. Jaffe's approach requires a new way to look at the marketing equation.
But ultimately this debate will not be settled on how comfortable clients are made to feel, but how successful these approaches are. Ultimately, the market will decide as consumers respond more to one or the other. I highly recommend listening to the debate, at the link I posted above, it's great fun.
My eclectic summary of the great debate: