What’s in a Name?

IDG Global Solutions

By Jeremy Rueb

Names are powerful entities.
Whether we are talking about people (Windsor, Beckham, Obama), places (White House, Geneva, North Pole), or things (dog, gun, internet), names conjure up powerful images in our minds. Sometimes names generate extremely positive or negative responses–Mother Theresa vs Joseph Stalin. Sometimes our response to a name differs depending on our point of view—Barrack Obama, Andy Warhol, Silvio Berlusconi. Even in our technology corner of the universe, most of us have deep emotive and cognitive ties to names like Google, Microsoft, IDG. But why does this matter to us as media and marketing professionals?

A name defines a brand
Regardless of what a particular name means to each of us, one thing remains constant—each name defines a brand. It’s a small positioning statement that people understand immediately when you mention the name. In the US, we use expressions like “Doubting Thomas” to describe someone who’s overly skeptical, “Scrooge” to describe a miserable penny-pincher, “Polyanna” to describe someone who’s overly optimistic.

A name is based on what we do, not who we are
From a philosophical standpoint, it’s not the name that defines who we are, but who we are that defines the name (i.e. creates our brand). On a practical level, I can say that has been absolutely the case at IDG. Ten-Fifteen years ago, you might have thought of IDG as an IT media company—“that’s the technology publisher that sells print and online advertising.” In the middle of this was a US group called IDG Corporate Sales. It existed to support our top US clients across our various media properties. IDG Global Solutions (IGS) played a similar role across the globe. But then something amazing happened. In 2001, the dot.com implosion led to a huge downturn in traditional advertising. At the surface, you may wonder why I look back that far, especially if your market wasn’t severely impacted by what happened in the US. But what happened in the US then has continued to gain global traction—the need for media companies to rethink how to drive better value for their clients beyond traditional media solutions.

This need led to new areas of investment that drove incremental revenue at IDG and broader solutions for marketers—events, content creation and lead-generation. Sure they sound commonplace today, but 10 years ago these were considering leading edge. But we didn’t stop there. In recent years, we’ve launched lead nurturing, content assessments, social advertising, social marketing services, research, video, mobile, and a bevy of new rich media and content platforms (CommunityWorks, Knowledge Vaults, Nanosites to name a few). Each of these solutions required new levels of consultation, delivery, and reporting.

Amidst this transition, IDG Corporate Sales recognized the paradigm shift for marketers away from traditional advertising into a new world of service-based activities. What IDG was emphasizing quickly became de rigueur. We were more concerned with marketing platforms and program concepts, than media planning and insertion orders. So in 2008 we renamed our US team IDG Strategic Marketing Services. It was formal acknowledgement that we had already shifted away from media sales to idea generation and execution.

IDG Strategic Marketing Services is defined by marketing innovation
Since then, IDG has launched Strategic Marketing Services (SMS) in nearly all major IDG markets. Key to fueling this global change is the constant innovation required to help keep our clients ahead of the industry, and IDG ahead of its competitors. As our CEO, Bob Carrigan, described in a recent article in Strategy & Business (Issue 66, Sprint 2012) “Our magazine category, technology, was like a canary in a coal mine: Our audience moved rapidly to interactive and digital platforms. There weren’t a lot of other media categories in front of us. We had to experiment wildly and create an innovation culture just to keep up.”

In order to remain a viable media and marketing partner, we continue to invest in new ideas, platforms and areas of service that drive the best value for our clients. Wherever our clients find an IDG brand, they find a resource for the new era that address current marketing needs with the strongest, most appropriate forward-thinking products, solutions and services available.

What does this mean to you?
I use the example of IDG primarily as a way of redefining what each of us as marketing professionals needs to accomplish in our careers today. The reality is that what we’ve done is just the beginning—a moment in time. And the revolution is gaining steam. Following IDG, many media companies across the globe have launched Marketing Services organizations over the past few years. Clients and Agencies also have repositioned themselves to focus more on services. Evidence of this is in social media. Marketing professionals don’t buy social media programs and watch them go—they are investing significant time blogging, tweeting, aggregating conversation, driving discussions, and reevaluating what defines campaign success.

As modern marketers, we each need to rebrand ourselves, moving away from traditional roles as advertising executives, media buyers, event planners and marketing directors. We are no longer defined by marketing plans, spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations that recap the previous quarter’s ROI and next quarter’s activities—some of those responsibilities will always remain as a function of what we do. But core to our role in the new world of IT marketing is leveraging innovation that drives new levels of business success. Doing so gives our name (and our brand) a progressive image vs a static one.

The cumulative value is that we’re ALL benefitting from the new “Wild West” of marketing services and the focus on innovation. True, there is some learning to be found from working with marketers that offer point solutions and services, but strategic marketing is not done in siloes anymore. As the industry determines which ideas work best, it’s important to have strong marketing partners who have tested, failed and succeeded across a wide variety of modern marketing solutions, and can help you understand, organize and prioritize all of the options available. IDG is just one of those partners, but our tireless focus on both local and global solutions give us the unique opportunity to see things at all levels of the industry. Our work with many of you has led to this knowledge, and we are excited to share it with you whenever possible. Our commitment to you is to help you sort through the new world of possibilities.

As IDG becomes redefined as an IT media and marketing solutions company, our newly redefined name will hopefully come to mean to you that we are a partner that drives the most value to your business, creating a stronger name for you, your company and your customers.

Jeremy Rueb is VP Program Development at IDG Strategic Marketing Services

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