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Scaling Marketing’s Big Rocks: The Last 3 Come Tumbling Down

Jed MoleJanuary 29, 2015

Last weekend I had the great pleasure of introducing to my two boys, a duo almost as fantastic as they are, Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. The joy I got from watching them roll about laughing to the underrated comedy See no evil. Hear no evil made my weekend. There’ve been many great Hollywood duos over the years along with sporting duos and less famous duos in business, but in this story, the fact that one is blind and needs the other to see while the other is deaf and needs his pal to hear for him, really shows how reliant they are on each other and how much better things can be when we buddy up.

I started a series of blogs a few months back now entitled Scaling Marketing’s Big Rocks. In it I gave a personal view around 7 ‘big rocks,’ themes as persistent and hard as rocks themselves, that marketers continually wrestle with and that often mark the difference between success and failure. The seven were: Data Silos, Customer Recognition/ Identification, Customers, Shiny New Things, Privacy, Exponential/ Big Data and Brand & Creative. I’ve already elaborated my thoughts on Silos and how we need to connect them, Customers and the fact it’s ‘human data’ we’re working with, Shiny New Things and the need to focus on the end in mind not the technology per se and on the exponential growth and explosive changes in, dare I even say it, Big Data! So now, I think it’s high time I covered the final 3. That said, I’d like to cheat if you’ll permit me.

Let my first ‘sleight of hand’ be, to encourage you to check out Acxiom’s points of view around Recognition. Just this week, we’ve launched a white paper and supporting viewpoints around the mission-critical need to be able to recognise individuals wherever they present themselves, regardless of channel or device. There’s so much being talked about recognition right now that I could only scratch the surface and so encourage you to read more in our recognition blogs and white paper. It is the foundation of all great marketing to come.

My second ‘cheat’, is around Privacy. For 45 years we at Acxiom have held this subject as close to our hearts as we possibly can. It was once a very dry subject and all about the ‘legalese.’ Now, it’s top of mind for any marketer worth their wages and indeed, it’s on the mind of the vast majority of us as individuals. Again, as Acxiom, we’ve said so much about this subject, that I feel it’s only appropriate that I endorse its still-growing importance and encourage you to read our other materials around this critical theme.

So! The last big rock we’re left to wrestle with is Brand and Creative, or chalk and cheese as they could be viewed! Why? Why? Anyone who has worked in a reasonably sized marketing department of the last 25 years can tell you exactly why! It’s because we’re different! We’re all on a ‘spectrum’ but there’s no way a brilliant creative right-brained guy wants to think they’re ‘the same’ as some brilliant left-brained data stato. No way! Great creative comes from the soul, the heart while the boring, relatively robotic head looks to the data. Luckily the answer is all around us and blatantly, if eventually obvious.

As humans, we make every decision by head and by heart. Do we not? We are similar to Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor, we need each other because the opposite side is lacking. Good old Star Trek is another brilliant example. The best path was always Kirk’s flamboyant, never give up, what-if approach mixed with Spock’s logical, calculated and practical approach. It’s who we are. It’s why writers of print and screen immortalise who we are in the stories they tell. These stories reflect who we are, how we work and they’re right!

What shall we do? There are only two things we can do and they are respect and collaborate. Data today, tells us so much. Not everything, but enough to do a better job at really recognising,  understanding  and engaging the individuals that devices and technology present to us now, every day, in real time and with creative messages shaped by the data!

But spare a thought for brands! Ask any smart, savvy marketer of today and they’ll recognise that the brands that have access to the data are the brands that are best placed to succeed (through better serving customers) in the brave new world that has crept up on us so slowly then suddenly! And yet, research shows that as individuals, we’ll only share data with the brands we trust!

I’m running out of space on a subject I could talk about forever but here’s my argument. We can go on and on about the smart things we can do for customers but, in this perhaps vicious circle we have, rule number 1 is build trust and that means using data to shape great creative experiences.

#cracked the code?