By Rex Hammock, Founder and CEO
This Idea Email breaks our long-standing practice of keeping this biweekly essay hype-free. But this week also marks the 25th anniversary of Hammock, so I hope you’ll forgive me.
I’ve discovered such a milestone generates comments like, “I bet you’ve seen a lot of changes during that time.” Or, if you are a parent of witty Millennials, “What was it like before electricity?”
While a lot has changed about the tools we use and the labels used to describe our work, little has changed about why Hammock began or the actual service we provide our clients.
Despite working at an award-winning advertising and public relations firm filled with talented people doing outstanding work, I became convinced (obsessed, some would say) with another means of marketing. I believed that marketers and their brands should be able to communicate directly with customers and not have to go through the gatekeepers of media companies.
I never believed those channels would go away. I still don’t. My obsession had to do with new media channels that could be developed with the constant improvement of PCs and Macs—especially the networking of those computers.
The World Wide Web was only a few weeks old when Hammock started, but I was already a user of Compuserve and versions of AOL, and then, early internet listservs. I could see in them early examples of companies and customers creating online relationships. Even offline, I realized that the Mac put publishing tools in our hands that just a few years earlier were available only to major media firms.
But my obsession was not with technology, distribution channels or even content. My obsession was with the possibility of connecting companies and customers without having to pay tolls to the traditional media gatekeepers—and the possibility of separating messaging sent to potential customers from messaging sent to owners of the product or service.
That’s still our obsession at Hammock. Today, we call it direct-to-customer media. Our reason for being is still to help our clients and their customers build long and mutually beneficial relationships. Just as 25 years ago, the people who work at Hammock continue to believe that augmenting great products and services with great content adds value to those products. We believe what we do can help our clients rise above their competitors and is a marketing investment that pays dividends far longer than any alternative approach.
We also believe the next 25 years offer even more opportunity to create customer media for savvy marketers and the customers, members, clients and other audiences they serve.