The collaboration technology of choice varies by marketing discipline

Today I had lunch with my friend Don Buck of Buck Marketing. He owns a list brokerage. I was explaining why I had not yet installed the program he swears by, Trillian by Cerulean Studios. It’s a way to aggregate all of your instant messaging (IM) identities into one account. That way, regardless of which system someone wants to reach you in — AOL, MSN, Yahoo, Google (Jabber) or a less popular IM account — you can receive and send through one account.

Pretty clever. But it was a solution to a problem that I don’t have.

I only have Google IM, and that’s primarily to communicate with my team members. Few people beyond my coworkers are in my Google buddy list, and I have no need for other accounts. Don said, “That’s interesting but not surprising. I find that my contacts in the email marketing industry use IM to do their work, but those in direct mail use email.”

I have a theory why. Direct mail takes weeks to plan and execute, as do most other marketing projects nowadays. Passing information via email is sufficient to meet those types of deadlines.

Email projects are usually more immediate — at least when you are in the execution stage. We’re talking lag times of days instead of weeks. IM may be the only collaboration technology immediate enough to keep things on track and still keep a record of what’s discussed (otherwise you can just pick up the phone).

Or perhaps it’s something else that turns email marketers away from their lingua franca. Perhaps those who send emails for a living can’t bear to lean heavily on that medium to manage the projects. Sort of like the guy who makes donuts every morning never wanting to sample his own work.

3 Replies to “The collaboration technology of choice varies by marketing discipline”

  1. I have a theory, too (although it may not be a politically correct one).

    I work for a firm that has a direct mail LOB and an email LOB.

    And guess what the average AGE of the people in the 2 LOBs are.

  2. Ron,

    You may be right but that would not be my experience. I have been in direct marketing since the early 80’s but I’m quick to adopt new technology and try it out and keep what works. The folks that I communicate with on both sides (email and postal mail) are generally list support — and younger. The list mangers (their bosses) tend to be older but the folks that I’m trying to reach are younger.

    Although it could be my peers are stuck in the past; I think it is the IT folks. I find that the older more established list brokerage companies tend to have legacy systems that are restrictive. The twenty years that I worked as a mailer (before internet) had restrictive computer environments that would not allow employees to put their own software on work PCs. Fast-forward to today, these same companies are run by IT departments that are still trying to keep control.

    So if I were a young list support person working on the postal side am I going to setup an IM account just for Don Buck when none of my other list brokers are allowed to use it? Or the list management company itself dates back to pre-internet and has these restrictive personnel policies.

    E-list companies tend to have newer systems without the legacy problems. Even if it’s a division of an older company, generally there is a separate system that has been developed to meet their needs, one of which, as Jeff suggests is being responsive to very tight turn around time-frames.

  3. ah, ok — got it.

    I was thinking of IM use more generically.

    But your point is excellent — and, in fact, my own experience parallels yours.

    The company I used to work at was a “high-IM” culture — you left your IM window w/ colleagues open all day for that periodic ping.

    Where I work now, practically NO ONE IMs — regardless of age. It’s just the culture of the place.

    As to your “young list support person”, you’re right — they’re not going to set up an IM account. Unless, of course, they’re trying to change the culture of the firm (good luck to them, if they do).

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