11 December 2009

The Three Ds of modern marketing

There are Three Ds of modern marketing you dare not ignore: Digital, Direct and Data.

Yesterday's post about the "constant process" of online media ("Digital" to some of us), got me thinking about the Three Ds, which have been a recurring theme lately in my daily work.

The "constant process" of Digital means that you don't just launch a campaign and see what happens. You launch, measure and optimize.

This is exactly the same with Direct, the second "D". When I was an AE at Leo Burnett we proposed to our client an inbound telemarketing program ("an 800 number" to some of us). Burnett's direct marketing department was new, and we had hired an incredible talent in Tom Collinger, now a professor at Northwestern University. His words to the client stick with me to this day: "If you launch a program like this, it's a commitment. You never really turn it off."

Direct, like Digital, is an ongoing process. The whole purpose is to establish a relationship that makes your brand or product line meaningful enough to a consumer that they will continue to receive and respond to your messages. Increasingly they will send messages of their own, which also have to be measured.

Both Digital and Direct depend on Data, the third "D". The measurement and optimization is all performed based on how consumers respond to your message, and that response is more measurable than ever. As Lester Wunderman recently (under)stated: "The science of data has really built (the direct marketing) business."

Not only must we recognize these Three Ds of modern marketing, we are practically compelled to use them in combination. It would be inadvisable to run a Direct program without Digital and impossible to run one without Data.

These couldn't be a Venn Diagram because the circles would be right on top of one another. I prefer to think of these Three Ds as a 6-4-2 double play combination in baseball, like Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance.

Whatever the right analogy is, these are certainly the right combination. Historically, marketing has been based on events that we execute, that succeed or fail, and that teach us lessons to apply next time. In the modern era we can learn those lessons in real time and adjust accordingly, driving up the sales curve as we go.


  1. Great blog Steve, I couldn't agree with you more. "You launch, measure and optimize." This brilliant sentence should be painted across all AE's foreheads. As a self-proclaimed direct mail expert, I concede the combination of the three Ds is imperative. Again, wonderful post.

    Thank you.

  2. Thank you for the kind words, Connor! To be clear, data is critical to launching, measuring AND optimizing. You need to know what you will measure, measure it, and then try to do better and/or set new measures. Few people have the committment to do this kind of analysis even if they have the skills.

  3. I agree. In my opinion, this is what is critical for us to retain clients...we can't be creative for creative sake. We have to learn from our success or failures and, like you said, set new measures. This info is great, I shared it on twitter this morning!