Slow Down To Speed Up

I had the pleasure of being the keynote speaker at the Canadian Marketing Association’s President’s Dinner on Monday night. Sadly for me, it was also Memorial Day in the U.S., and as Murphy would have it, it was a tormenting 81 degrees when I left for the airport on Monday.

That said, I couldn’t have been happier to be asked to speak. I’ve participated in several CMA events in the past and I always enjoy coming back.

In preparing for the event, I wanted to make sure I tied my talk to the theme of the national convention, “Shaping The Future of Marketing.”

I always salivate at any topic that talks about the future of marketing. It’s a subject I dedicate a lot of time thinking about. I recently delivered a Tedx talk, “Retinkering Marketing” at the Westport, Ct. Library.

Being the provocateur and contrarian that I am, I decided to tell the room of 150 senior marketers to slow down, not speed up. Actually, the message was to slow down in order to speed up.  I discussed my "real-time marketing is bulls…t" message: in other words, forget about real time and just concentrate on moving quicker.



I also discussed The Next Big Thing Syndrome, and why it’s so important to deliver on three expressions of this idea:

1.     There is no next big thing. The next big thing is now.

2.     Why are you worried about the next big thing, when you haven’t taken advantage of digital, social and mobile

3.     Is it the “next big thing” or “the next big thing for YOU”? In other words, just because the dailies or trades say it’s passé, doesn’t mean it can’t work wonders for you. In some cases, this could be something is rudimentary (digitally speaking) as electronic mail (or e-mail for short!)

The final part of slowing down (to speed up) is to think about the long game -- the ability to plant seeds, lay the foundation and put down building blocks capable of truly transforming a business, brand, or even an industry. This could be in the form of making the transition to Z.E.R.O. paid media, putting 50% of marketing spend on “direct” (the “O” of Z.E.R.O. representing owned assets) versus “indirect,” formalizing advocacy in the form of a “Flip the Funnel” Ambassador program, or investing in (or acquiring) a startup.

The challenge, of course, is that when we’re speeding up and operating in real time, we’re in danger of becoming even more short-term focused and obsessed with real-time ROI as opposed to some kind of deferred return. The ability to manage expectations and build a marketing ecosystem to last is severely impeded by a marketing culture that is more A.D.D. as opposed to Value A.D.D.

I often say that the seeds of conversion are not magic beans. In fact, the only time these days that we get instant spikes are when things go horribly wrong. Viral success is more about serendipity and luck than it is about calculated and premeditated orchestration. Make no mistake; viral failure simply must be reacted to at the “speed of marketing.”

Scenario and contingency planning are without question part of the DNA of the new marketing landscape. However, by the same token, in a manic marketing environment, marketers would do well to slow down, focus, prioritize and apply true strategic best practices in order to speed up, accelerate, power forward and leave their competitors in their wake.

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