When I tell people I work for an integrated marketing communications company, they say, "like an ad agency," to which I respond, "Yes, but so much more."
Then they often ask, "Do you come up with the ads?" I respond that our agency values everyone's opinion and ideas but creating messaging is not my primary role. Then, "Do you deal with the clients?" I say yes, frequently, but I'm required to do so much more.
And THEN, the inevitable, "So what, exactly, do you do?"
Engagement or "paid media strategists" help brands market products and services by defining target audiences and recommending ways to reach and engage them. We answer questions such as:
"Who has a need for this product or service?" "What engagement channels – digital, TV, radio, print, outdoor, social media, experiential - will deliver the marketing messages in the most compelling fashion to inspire action?"
So, what goes into a great engagement strategy? Analyzing every scrap of research available – first, second and third party data. Adding in a thorough understanding of the potential customers' "journey to purchase" and developing testing and campaign tracking strategies. All of which get refined and optimized as the campaign progresses and we learn more about the engagement performance.
We work with a variety of personalities, learn about many different industries and tackle client challenges. Engagement options and habits are always changing which keeps the role dynamic and exciting. Being good with numbers, a desire and ability to "poke holes" and uncover the truth while evaluating engagement opportunities, being a bit of a people person and an ability to work in a team environment are all helpful, too. And, having a sense of humor pretty much gets everyone through the day!
Is engagement planning as exciting as developing a messaging strategy – crafting a positioning, concepting visuals or writing a headline? It's certainly not considered as sexy!
But remember, no brand communication has ever been seen, heard or experienced by a target audience without a strong engagement strategy and execution plan behind it. As a huge contributor to any campaign's success, I'm proud of what our team of strategists and planners do, even if nobody really understands the nuances of the vocation.
When my parents last went on vacation and my Mom called to say, "Honey, can you suspend your father's subscription to the Wall Street Journal while we're away – you deal with newspapers and "stuff," don't you?" I answered, "Yes, that's the type of stuff I do, and so much more!"
Mary Jo Sobotka - Chief Integrated Engagement Officer