If you and I were having this talk over coffee or tea, this is the point where I would lean forward across the table and sincerely say, “What else are you going to do?”
There is no stable place. Change is happening continually. Everyone around you is drawing new conclusions about what really works. However, change is not a respecter of persons, it doesn’t care whether you agree or not.
From suck to not suck
How can you address a problem that you cannot see? The answer depends, of course, on the situation. No matter what, the process of coming to clarity with an effective marketing strategy takes time, patience, and candor. Candor could not be more crucial to our strategic and creative processes. Why? Because early on, all of our projects suck. That’s a blunt assessment, I know, but I choose that wording because saying it any nicer fails to convey how bad first versions really are.
Yes, we dare to attempt to get the process, strategy, and story right on the first pass. This is as it should be. But the truth is, creativity has to start somewhere and evolve as more is learned. When it comes to solving complex sales and marketing issues, they are a work in progress and require an iterative process
— reworking, reworking, reworking again, until bang – the less than perfect strategy, story, and process finds its soul and you begin to relish the flow of qualified leads and sales.
Things will always go wrong
We all know that things go wrong but we demand for things to be right. The truth is, there will always be things that go wrong. There is the illusion though, that somehow you can get to a stable place and figure it all out.
Ed Catmull, Pixar’s president says, “People have their fear: They want to be in a secure place; they want to know what to do; they want people to tell them what to do. And there isn’t anything that can remove that underlying piece of human nature. It is when we try to avoid, stop, or control change that we get into trouble.”
So it’s better to try to recognize that life as well as marketing is about change. Embrace it. Grow from it. Push beyond the boundaries of business as usual.
Don’t get sucked into the short-term thinking
There are three clear tools that work almost all the time for effecting real change in your marketing. The first is the presence of a visionary leader who can see many times what others may not see about the strategy. The second is talent. The third is execution of the strategy. If you utilize these tools correctly, with hard work and the right approach success is nearby.
Following are some thoughts to consider:
- People who take on complicated creative projects become lost at some point in the process. It is the nature of things: in order to create, you must internalize and almost become the project for a while, and that near-fusing with the project is an essential part of its emergence.
- Seek out people on your team who see the big picture but will level with you, and when you find them, keep them.
- When you begin a new marketing strategy choose a team that will make you think smarter and put lots of solutions on the table in a very short amount of time.
- Be willing to change. Don’t be afraid to blow up an idea and come at it from a different perspective.
- Start your project with a clear call to action: SUBSCRIBE.
- “Successful organizations make habits of things others don’t like to do, or don’t find time to do.” — Don House
- Interruption isn’t valued, but engagement is.
- There is no right way to do marketing today. Be willing to experiment.
- There is no shortcuts to great marketing; it takes a lot of elbow grease.
- Don’t wait for perfection. It will never be perfect. It is a constant changing work of art.
- “You are not your idea, and if you identify too closely with your ideas, you will take offense when challenged.”
- “It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.” — Epictetus
- Is your marketing more about your customers’ pain points or more about how great your services and products are?
- Will people talk to their colleagues and friends about your marketing? Will they search for it?
Resources and References
Ed Catmull with Amy Wallace, Creativity, Inc. – Random House, April 2014
Ed Catmull, How to Unleash Creativity – Fast Company, April 2014
Ardath Albee, eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale – Marketing Interactions, Inc., 2010