Making mistakes – What can marketers learn?

“Picasso painted thousands of paintings, but only 200 were among the greatest of all time. If he said ‘I failed most of the time’, you would say, ‘no’” Seth Godin

Here are top 5 take-aways from Seth and The Icarus Deception (I’ve had to limit it just to 5 to keep it simple, there are more…).

  • 1. Marketing is definitely Art. And it’s great art at that. In fact there are few jobs that allow art on this scale. Given most people accept marketing is no longer limited to advertising and campaigns, we can open up to the wider potential to tell stories around our products and services, create content and to put our focus on people, which is what marketing is actually about and should have remained about. Real people, not tactics, data and channels – they’re just tools to communicate. As Seth says, we’re in the Connection Economy now. So how might you leverage that?
  • 2. Marketing can create a value in itself, it can help a brand earn trust, it can communicate keepable promises and set expectations. But more importantly it can create a tangible value through enabling education, inspiration, entertainment and the building of connections to other people by virtue of your creativity in the marketing process. Seth talks a lot about the ‘connection economy’ – what could you do to be more valuable to your market by helping people to connect with each other and new information? Well, you will need…
  • 3. Imagination and creativity. These are the real skills of our time. Making great web applications is a given, the tools and people are there. It’s the same for content. Yet we need marketers, creatives, designers, software engineers and data analysts to focus their imagination around the consumer, to try make things that matter to that consumer, things that they are likely to value aside from the product itself. Remember Red Bull’s Stratos, Old Spice Guy and more recently Lynx’s Astronaut campaign? Three FMCG examples straight away.
  • 4. Failure is progress. Who wants to fail, not me I’m a perfectionist. And this is possibly my biggest learning, speaking personally. Freeing yourself to try, and accept possible failure is pretty liberating. Of course you don’t want to bet and loose big on one idea, be sensible of course, and still try something new. There will not be data to back up everything that you do (only 10 years ago there was very little data at all!), there is no map for you, accept that you’re going to tread new ground, this opens lots of space to ask different questions and unleash your imagination. And, look on the bright side, your competitors are less likely to be doing what your doing.
  • 5. Product quality. Whatever it is that you’re a part of selling or promoting, Seth urges us to accept that high quality and premium as product features are a given. Don’t make more average stuff for average people (and average marketing for average people). It’s easier for the little guys to compete more than ever, the bar is higher and it is the product that ultimately matters, make sure that yours is magical.
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