This post is by Nathan Hodges, TrinityP3‘s General Manager. Nathan applies his knowledge and creativity to the specific challenges of marketing management, with a particular focus on team dynamics and behavioural change.
I just came back from the World Federation of Advertisers Global Marketers Conference in Brussels. As is often the case with these things, some parts of it were really valuable and other parts less so. But one thing struck me as I finished the week.
At the moment I think the world of marketing is split between four extremes.
The first extreme is that you think you know everything about the change that is happening as digital and data disrupts our industry.
The second is that you believe you don’t know enough – or even don’t know anything.
The third extreme is that you actually understand the enormity and the true impact of what is going on.
And the final extreme is that you really don’t get any of it at all. I’ve drawn a graph to illustrate roughly what I mean.
Of course, most of us sit somewhere on this four-way continuum, somewhere between these four extremes. But it’s becoming increasingly clear to me that it’s really important as a marketer to know exactly where you sit, because where you sit makes a fundamental difference to how you equip yourself for what is happening and what is yet to come.
First of all, the marketers that really don’t get it, and don’t think they know enough
There were plenty of those to be found in Brussels. And what a great group – because they got loads out of the conference, asked the best questions, made the best observations, learned the most from the speakers and delegates and left with the biggest mindset shift. Given the speed and extent of the change that’s coming, I think it’s the safest group for any of us to be in, whatever our actual or perceived level of expertise.
Marketers who get it but know they don’t know enough
The other terrific group of people to hang out with were the ones who actually get what is happening, but don’t think they know nearly enough about it. And I’d put the Google team in this group – clearly a company that is on top of far more than most of us, but which (at the WFA at least) demonstrated a constant state of insecurity and self-criticism, leading it to innovate like it is on the brink of exiting the market. Seeing this up close (suspending any cynicism just for a moment) showed me why Google is still around after all these years, and will be for several more.
Marketers who think they get it all, but don’t really
Then there were the guys and girls who believe they get what is going on, but actually don’t. There were lots of them, I’m afraid, either spruiking on stage or opining in the conference hall and side functions. They were the ones who were talking about digital as a channel, or integration as matching messages, or brand ideas as communication ideas, or marketing as a business unit. They were the ones presenting case studies as simple systems with clear cause and effect. They were usually from companies operating in the boom markets like China, patting themselves on the back for double-digit growth while their business elsewhere remains flat. They all seemed to have something to sell, even if it was just themselves.
The marketers who actually do get it
And finally, there were the ones everyone wanted to discover and connect with – those that believe they get what is going on, and actually do get it. The real experts, the proper geniuses. Except there weren’t any. We all searched for them the whole week. We all wanted to learn from them, find out their secrets, use their knowledge and expertise in our businesses.
Maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t spot a single one.