Part one: Are marketers still afraid of the web?

Part two: Are marketers still afraid of the web?

After his successful session at the 2009 ADMA Forum, Joseph Jaffe (president and chief interruptor of crayon) squeezed in a chat with to give us his thoughts on the event, his interpretation of brand commitment and why marketers are not utilising the web as well as they could be.

How is the ADMA Forum coming along?

It’s amazing to me to see there’s a real strong focus on the consumer and the customer, more so than you would expect at a direct marketing conference. We’ve got new media and youve got social media, but also some other interesting areas – for example Steven Noble from Forrester Research talking about loyalty and customer experience, which is a big key area that I’m focused on right now.

I was following your session on Twitter and something that you spoke about was the commitment to the consumer. Is it something you think is being followed through by marketers?

Not really. I was talking to somebody earlier who was saying that fundamentally one of the big problems here is that companies don’t trust their employees. I don’t think they trust their consumers either, or if they do, they don’t show it and they don’t act that way.

We want our consumers to trust us, trust the brand and trust the people behind the brand – trust the company. But the reality is there’s a distrust and the statistics are getting worse. You can juxtapose that with the reality – who do consumers trust? The answer is they trust each other.

In fact, Piaras at Edelman has what they call their global trust barometer (I think they call it the Annual Trust Barometer). NGOs aside, when it comes to government and corporations, etc. the trust levels are dropping radically. Where they’re increasing or where they’re going are to average, ordinary people like you and me. Getting the advice or the recommendations of our spouses, our friends, our colleagues, our co-workers is nothing new. What is new is that right now we’re getting the same advice – in fact we’re getting, from the quality and the quantity standpoint, better advice from this global village.

That’s where you put Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google; you put all of these different variables into context. That’s really what’s happening right now. It is a type of natural selection in a way, or it is a self-selected system that is flat, that is transparent, that is a level playing field in a sense. It’s really governed by the currency of trust.

So to go back to your question, this commitment to our consumers is either superficial or it’s lip service and/or it’s just very short lived – in other words, it’s very campaign like.

Do you think this is something that has developed over a long period or is a sudden occurrence?

My feeling is that we saw this with the boom and bust – because there isn’t that real cultural commitment to change, conversation and innovation, and a whole variety of different levels, it becomes ‘toe dipping’; marketers will dip their toes in the water, it will feel too cold and they’ll run away yelping. Or they’ll go in at a fairly superficial level and, the minute something goes wrong or doesn’t go completely right, they’ll do an about face and run away.

It’s this idea of getting burnt, and maybe it’s still the remnants of the bust. The fact is when there isn’t that cultural and deep-seated commitment to follow through, or a long-term focus, what generally happens is these investments become nothing more than just little tactical silos and one-offs – they’re almost set up and built to fail, as opposed to being built to last.

In part two of our chat with Joseph Jaffe, he continues his thoughts on web marketing and the role social media can play in marketing.