marketing optimism

I just learned that March is National Optimism month. Optimism is, of course, an incredibly powerful attitude and a huge boon to people who can feel it in their daily lives. That got me thinking about the lives of marketers and how optimism can be a hard thing to come by some days, simply because at times the current marketing landscape can feel overwhelming. We are truly living in the distracted age where the proliferation of marketing messages, and the pervasive intrusion of digital devices, results in our having the attention span of a goldfish (or less according to this study). This could lead some marketing folks to curse our current environment and long for the good old days of appointment television and easy access to massive numbers of people. But I’m optimistic about the marketing landscape and, as a partner in an agency whose goal it is to help brands create engagement in this age of distraction, I’d like to share five reasons why you should be too:

1) The playing field is more even than ever before. In the past, big marketing budgets almost always won. Don’t get me wrong, I still love big budgets (sounding a bit like Sir Mix-A-Lot) but the reality is that with the ability to produce high quality content and distribute it with limited cost, brands who don’t have the deep pockets can still be formidable competitors for their audience’s attention and love.
2) The people who buy your products can do a lot of the marketing heavy lifting. Years ago I had the pleasure of working with Shiv Singh who launched Razorfish’s social media practice and is now SVP Global Head of Digital & Marketing Transformation at Visa. He once re-worked Peter Drucker’s theory that “the purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer” to “the purpose of a business is to create a customer who creates and keeps other customers.” This is the world in which we live and the brands that can effectively engage and motivate their customers to spread their love will win.
3) Storytelling is in a resurgence. One could argue that marketing lost its way for a while when we become so focused on the promise that data would turn campaigns into simple, turnkey, highly optimizable events. Somehow we started to forget that actions are only as important as what story is driving them, and how that story connects a person with a brand. Great marketers never lost sight of this and in our cluttered marketplace great stories still drive great results.
4) Data is actually usable now. Having been focused in digital since the late- ‘90s I went through the process of being incredibly excited about data (the promise of one-to-one marketing!) to slightly jaded, to bored, to having a resurgence of excitement. And that’s because not only are we getting lots of data but also we now have better ways of making sense of it, tying it back in meaningful ways to what we know builds relationships with people.
5) Getting into market, learning, refining, and expanding is easier than ever before. All of the above points really build upon one another to the most exciting thing about marketing today which is brands, big and small, can be more nimble in building experiences, learning what’s working, refine them and then bring the winners out to the larger audience. In other word, iteration, collaboration, insights all come together in exciting and new ways.

Optimists, unite!