After years of trying desperately to hide it… I finally admit that I’m the idiot, and I’m okay with it. Yes, really. Let me explain.
I recently had a familiar conversation with someone who was trying to understand what I do. Once again I found myself woefully unprepared for such a conversation. I often find it difficult to explain that I help organizations solve problems -- usually brought on by technological advances -- ones that they haven’t put into practice for their org but find their customers adopting first.
Also, let me explain that I am not a technologist, I’ve been a Creative Director, a CEO and a CMO but I still have a hard time defining what it is I do exactly. One friend coined me as a “Creative Strategist” but I tell everyone, I am a Marketer with lots of digital know-how, oh hell, let’s be honest, sometimes, I tell people I am Creative Director. Marketing works most of the time because this is a catchall for all the areas we may find ourselves when helping clients.
I walked away from this conversation frustrated with myself. Before I go on, don’t worry, this is not a self-help post. The truth of the matter is that my job is always being redefined as new technology enters into the consumer space. Being a strategic and creative marketer means that I walk a fine line between creativity, product development, and data-driven business planning.
What is a creative and strategic marketer?
There’s quite a few of us out there and we provide help to organizations, big and small. The help we provide covers understanding how the brand is going to be consumed by current and potential customers. In this instance the consumption of the brand usually means not only what we consider traditional branding activities but also what is coined as User Experience -- and that has everything to do with how customers are appreciating not only a brand’s software interface but also all the way to how they are receiving marketing messaging through digital communication channels.
So, what makes me the idiot?
While I started in the creative world, I now find myself working with all sorts of businesses to solve all different types of problems. So, what makes me the idiot besides the obvious?
I often encounter problems I have never solved before and have no idea how to solve. In the business world, things are evolving so quickly around technology that new problems are emerging every second of every day. And this is precisely why I’m okay with being a self-proclaimed idiot.
While businesses can easily identify threats of disruption, I like to focus on the upside of disruption. That is, how can I answer the call to action around change and realize the benefits that could boost a brand. I admit to not always having the answers to new problems that arise for my clients. I hope you guys aren’t reading this now! However, this forces innovation, and this is what it means to be a creative and a strategist. Here’s how it works:
Preparing to understand the problem
Being a successful strategic marketer often requires seeking out the people you need from the various domains that will help you completely understand the problem at hand including always starting with the customer. Once you assemble the resources necessary to understand the problem fully (and this could include operations, tech, sales, finance, etc), the work of gathering and synthesizing information and data points to eliminate or solve the problem begins.
It is easy to identify that threats come from new sources: digital, changing consumer behaviors, and competition from unexpected places. But often businesses make the mistake of looking at the problem from a limited point of view, and therefore try to apply an old solution to overcome a new problem.
By thinking from the market, technical, customer, and competitive perspectives and melding information from each into an overall understanding, you are able to see a fresh perspective and develop new answers.
Marketing in an Age of Change
Marketing has changed so much in the last 20 years. While marketing was never easy, technology has made it a whole lot tougher. What used to be a matter of identifying needs and communicating benefits now requires businesses to build immersive experiences that engage consumers from cradle to grave. That means businesses must seamlessly integrate a whole new range of skills and capabilities. I like to believe the future is bright and I tell the junior staff members that all the time especially as we humans continue to develop new technology and ways of interacting.
Thank you for helping me sort out what it is I do… but please if you see me on the street, don’t yell out that’s the idiot. Keep questioning the norm, look at problems from new angles and enjoy the ride we humans are on...