Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Letter of Intent

It was a box too long, shallow, and heavy to carry easily and I was reverently attempting to deliver it safely across campus. Reverently because it contained the several hundred punch cards I had keyed. It was 1972 in Illinois where they have fields of sunflowers, all you can see for as far as you can see. Pure magic. I believe in magic but I also believe in finding it in results. So I was negotiating my way towards the computer building. I had an appointment to discover what these cards would reveal about the communication proclivities of the college students who had completed my master’s thesis questionnaire.

It was a walk that became my journey; a lifetime of trying to get people to react, do, and buy what I wanted when I wanted. Sounds presumptuous, doesn’t it? I did/do mean well. I have this fantasy of being able to make the “world” better. That communication brings understanding.

So no surprise, my calling is marketing and I’ve been making that trip between the communications building and the computer lab for about 35 years (ouch). What I’ve learned is that marketing projects almost always require IT support, an experience that is like bringing together, without an interpreter, tourists who speak different languages. There is lots of hand gesturing and head-shaking.

My own attempts translate into: I know enough about technology to get myself into trouble. On the job, working with what seems to be always outdated database management systems, struggling with not enough IT resources, getting a vision of what might be and then trying to enlist people in different areas and other companies, to make the idea a reality. Being told “No, it can’t be done”, never really understanding why, secretly believing there’s a lie involved.

Working in direct response marketing, I’ve learned how to build databases, test creative concepts, offers, and customer segments. I’ve even led a team to develop programming and launch a product that was scanned and activated at the cash register. With the development of social media channels, I’ve recognize the opportunity to engage customers in new ways. I also discovered that in this online arena, much of my direct response experience is helpful. For example landing page A/B testing, pay per clicks, Google analytics, these are all focused on measuring and interpreting response. It seems that “measurable” marketing is now all the rage.

The sum of my intentions is this: that as well as I know direct response marketing, the lands of information science are on the outskirts of my maps and there’s this warning: Beyond Here, Be Dragons. But I’m not easily deterred.

I see a growing need for marketing managers, like myself, to bring high competency in technology to their strategic marketing work. I want to be that marketing expert that can meld these two disciplines, marketing and technology, into a seamless communication solution; a solution that delights and then motivates the consumer. Can you help me?

Postscript:  I've been accepted at Penn State and I'm now getting my Masters in Information Science.  I'm excited to be on this journey.