Top marketing innovation killers

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Barriers to marketing greatness

Our jobs shouldn't be that hard, should they? This is not rocket science or brain surgery. This is advertising and marketing. But alas, in truth, much more is known about both rocket science and brain surgery than about marketing. Why? We, as people and consumers, are a completely unpredictable system of chaos. If we understood people to the depth we did rocket science, there would be little need for the entire profession of psychology.

Most of the brash arrogance that agencies spout at clients during the course of their ego-laden "I'm smarter than you" rants is based on opinion, gut instinct, historical reflection, and an over-reliance on metrics. In the end, we do not know what the consumer will do -- we're guessing. Hopefully it's an educated guess. But even when we layer on reasoning after reasoning as to why someone did something, apply the greatest possible metrics to consumer behavior, and create quantum predictability models, in the end we are still blind. All of our advanced systems do little more than increase our ability to measure the effect of marketing, not determine what people are thinking and why they think it.

What makes one brand or campaign succeed while others fail? What makes one agency a success while others implode? Once again, it's the people -- the people behind the campaigns who have the creative insight to assemble their thoughts into a "multicultural critical theory interpreter." Success relies on the ability of marketers to peer into the souls of the populace en masse and viscerally understand what will work. It is more art than science, and unfortunately that art has been nearly obliterated by the past two decades of M.B.A.-driven measurement and analysis.

What follows are four of the reasons why marketing innovation gets destroyed, as well as solutions for overcoming these innovation blockers.



Lana Ng
Lana Ng February 3, 2010 at 1:52 AM

This is an excellent article. Marketers today need to learn and understand clients' businesses and how to bring solid value. I have worked at numerous ad agencies in the past and have met only very few leaders who understand - very unfortunate.

Cliff Medney
Cliff Medney February 1, 2010 at 12:03 PM

Very insightful-especially your comment on-and i paraphrase- "ask not how great a campaign concept it is, but how did they sell it to the client". Or, even more to your point (i believe) elevate the hell out of the creative product so clients are compelled and enthusiastic players in the "scary great" creative product and maybe even the insightful "how we got there" process. Thanks for sharing!!!

dave deger
dave deger February 1, 2010 at 9:33 AM

Well said and couldn't agree more. From a former client perspective I would also add that it is readily evident when a room is packed with note takers, there for billing purposes only.

Bring only your strategy team, not your lackeys and maybe future budget discussions might go a bit easier