Commentary

Marketers Are New Action Heroes

I loved action movies as a kid.  To be honest, I still do.  I’ve always loved the characters depicted in those stories, because they were more than ordinary. and always took action with the information they were given. 

Today’s movies are dominated by action movies, ranging from superheroes to super cars.  They span the genre from Marvel to The Fast & The Furious.  But sometimes I long for the days of the grittier, tier 2 action hero movies that were less refined.  What comes to mind are  “Escape from New York,” “Remo Williams,” and an obscure classic called “Action Jackson” that starred Carl Weathers.   

“What does this column have to do with Action Jackson?” you may ask. My answer? Very little.

I’m more interested in diving into the word “action.”  I use it every day, and I’ve used it for many, many years.  I’m excited because I’ve recently noticed it being used seemingly everywhere.  Article after article in the digital media industry focuses on action. Insights without action are useless.  Data without insights, born from the data and turned into action, is useless.  Essentially anything without an action is useless.

Today’s marketers are able to become the “action heroes” of their respective organizations.  Marketers are the glue that unifies the organization, and we do it with actions taken from insights we glean from the data that is available to us.  A marketer that has the data and doesn’t take action is useless.

Of course, in any action movie there is a journey heroes must take.  In many cases they start out as an underdog.  They may be overlooked entirely.  Most of the time that hero is someone you least expect, but they rise from the story, responding to challenges thrown at them, and they finally overcome some great adversity to deliver what needs to be done. 

Sound familiar?  Marketers are usually overlooked in the organization, second to product and sales.  The strongest marketing orgs are ones that have risen from the ground up.  Brands like Apple, Intel, Cadillac and more are the ones people reference as marquee brands.  They were poorly performing brands until they took action based on information they had. 

The digital brands of today are known for harvesting data to create insights and using those insights to take action.  That action may take the form of new messaging, new packaging, new products or simply optimizations of all their existing efforts. Nobody sat around waiting three months for a “performance report.” Nobody spent their time doing look-back reporting.  It was about reading the ”now” to enhance the future. 

The wonderful thing about digital media is the absence of needing perfection at launch.  In traditional media, you have to launch a campaign perfectly because you usually can't change it.  Billboards and print ads need perfection.  Digital needs “good enough."  You can establish a baseline and then optimize from there. 

It's that empowerment of imperfection that leads to the story arc enabling marketers to be like action heroes.  We can start out as the underdog of an organization, but build to become the centerpiece of the entire go-to-market effort!  At the end, the organization sees the value and realizes they can barely live without the effects of marketing, and everyone drives or runs off into the sunset, happily ever after.

So onward, dear marketers.  May you approach the day with your chest puffed out and all the confidence you require.  Look at the data, create your insights, and take action!  And if you get a spare moment, go back and watch some of those amazing ‘80s action movies.  Carl Weathers and Sylvester Stallone will thank you.

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