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Solving all the problems of marketing?

 In Business decisions, Insights

I’ve been at Mumbrella360 the last 2 days, the leading marketing and media conference. Here’s what people said. We need to be more brave, more trusting of our agency partners, achieve gender equality, embrace conscious capitalism, work out how the hell to make social media pay off, redefine TV advertising, save journalism, fix agency remuneration models, and turn big data into actionable insights.What an amazing industry marketing is that we can worry about so many existential and economic issues at the same time.

Here’s my take on what’s going on.

First, values.

In marketing, most people’s roles are aimed at creating consumer demand for more, to keep the economy relentlessly growing every year, which seems to be necessary for some ill-defined reason (probably to keep the population happy that they are getting ahead, and therefore keep the pollies in power). So demand creation is essential to the modern version of capitalism, and marketing plays a key role in keeping everyone in jobs. But you know what, I reckon a substantial number of people in marketing are pretty damn smart, and not very close to the breadline. Which means we are the type of people who worry about why are they here and are they really doing good for the world. Not all of us are truly, deep down, proud of what we do as marketers. We might enjoy it, but we don’t delight in our contribution to society. So our personal values sometimes clash with corporate values.

Second, the economics of innovation.

Tony Faure did a great 10 minute speech talking about how there isn’t one single example of a big media company who has successfully disrupted itself and emerged as a winner in digital media. He told his story about being at Seek in the early days and having all sorts of contingency plans to cope with what Fairfax or News Ltd might do, and being amazed as the dominant players put their heads in the sand. This is the innovator’s dilemma where it almost impossible for a company in a dominant position to win in a time of disruption. He recommended that big media companies need to partner with start ups  – money partners with ideas. I’d like to see how this approach could tackle journalism, social media, TV, and even agency remuneration. Start up thinking could add a lot of value, and I can’t see the established players breaking the cycle on their own.

In both these cases, Values and Innovation, I believe good decision making is a key asset.

When you have clear personal and corporate values, decisions become a lot easier, and they stand the test of time – whether that be showing that conscious capitalism raises returns by 1000% over 10 years (Craig Davis) or that companies with women in the boardroom show 53% better returns in 1 year.

And when you have great decision making processes, innovation and being brave become easier – because you

  • understand issues more clearly,
  • create more options,
  • manage risk better,
  • avoid throwing good money after bad,
  • have more confidence in decisions, and
  • can execute more effectively

Thank you to the Mumbrella team for an awesome conference.

Posted by Rob Pyne