The next decade will be the best decade to be in marketing because all of us marketers will truly have to understand and meet customer requirements. While in the past we could create wealth through logistics, technology or finance, today we face people who have digital technology and whose needs must be met. Technology also empowers marketers to better listen and understand consumer needs and also provides a plethora of options to meet these requirement.
Globally the marketing services industry is over a trillion dollars which is 7 or 8 times the global revenues of Apple, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo combined. Marketing services is bigger than software. No wonder our category is attracting so many fine companies and solutions. Our industry should be bullish that we are attracting folks who can help us engage and resonate with audiences.
All of us in this industry, big and small, young and old, analog and digital, should work together to ensure that we grow as our industry grows. Its much better to have a smaller share of an exploding industry versus a growing share in a declining industry.
To ensure that we deliver on the potential, we must find ways to address three challenges
1. The future does not fit in the containers of the past
a) We are in a post digital age where it does not matter if things are analog or digital. People just engage and interact with “media and marketing” in a range of ways. Yes digital technologies will rise but things like television, magazines and even newspapers will be around for a long time. The only “death” we will see is the eventual death of the people who announce the “death” of this or that type of media
b) Digital Leakage. In a digital world things leak. Industries blur. Meredith is both a magazine and content company and a marketing services provider. Our business should expand and grab new opportunities.
c) While the world is going digital, people remain analog. They have feelings. They do what they are incentivized to do. Silos exist because we incentivize such behavior.
d) Our structures need to be more speedy. Speed used to kill now lack of speed kills. Lets have organizations that can iterate quickly and empower its folks to make decisions. Percolating decisions up and down an organization makes little sense.
e) Our organizational structures including holding companies need fixing. Holding companies continue to be needed because clients want and expect global scalable and science driven solutions. These require investment and relationships of a large enough nature for the top tech companies to engage with. But often art and other “soul” areas of the business can get lost.
2. Talent Attraction and Retention
a) There is nothing as scalable as talent. Companies with a disproportionate share of talent win. Industries that attract a disproportionate share of talent win. We must attract, motivate and leverage this talent.
b) Digital is more than a number it is having a digital mindset. This mindset involves talent that wants a wealth of experience, wealth of education and economic wealth.
c) The talent we most need are builders, sculptors, painters. Folks who create and not just manage.
3. We Must Learn To Lead Again
a) Many of us in our younger days came to the industry with audacity and dreams. We now stand with spreadsheets. Lets get back some of the audacity and dreams of our younger selves.
b) We need to nurture a culture of “fearlessness” . We need to find ways as senior folks to meet with and get informed by our younger colleagues. They can teach us and will tell us the truth.
c) We must also never forget that we cannot allow our Clients to fall behind their customers like they have done. Benchmarking amongst competiton rather than versus consumer may make us less pathetic than competitors but we are still pathetic.
We are at a terrific time in the industry.
Let us all go forth and build, sculpt and paint our future.
Let us be as great as we move into a Marketing Renaissance Age.
(This is a “remembered version” of the keynote on Monday March 1 at the 4A’s in San Francisco. I do not write out a speech but improvise off a few key themes. To see part of this in delivery please go to the Advertising Age Online site here http://adage.com/aaaaconf10/article?article_id=142380 )