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There is a danger in remaining too confined to the thought bubble of your own industry. Reading and listening to your peers too much can cloud your view of your work, as well as the industry as a whole. It takes you in a direction that ultimately does more harm than good.

For example, a lot is written right now that the majority of product marketing is not fit for purpose because it is so bad. I see articles like this all the time, and I am as guilty as anyone in writing them.

I can only speak for myself, but to say that creativity is exorcised from marketing is my real effort to stem the tide. It’s meant to be a clear call for marketers to rethink their over-reliance on data-driven marketing at the expense of creative execution. To offer campaigns better suited to objectives that resonate as much with the heart as with the mind.

Many of us ask that today’s marketing be more courageous. For businesses and brands of all sizes to be bolder in their messages. Take more risk in response to the bland, tasteless status quo that dominates every business segment we can care about.

However, it seems that the more we talk about the lack of creative execution of marketing messages, the more we help hasten its demise. We are fulfilling our own prophecy.

So how can we better communicate the value of creativity in effective marketing and explain why “being courageous” is actually nothing like it?

Houston, we got a problem (marketing)

At first glance, we’ve never had it so good. Marketers today have a ton of tools to help them create more relevant and resonant messages for a defined audience. Martech software companies are scrambling to sell us ever sexier ways to find new buyers or engage with existing ones. Automate that, streamline that, and generate an amazing report to float under your boss’s nose.

But if all of these marketing tools are supposed to improve the life of the marketer, why is the percentage rate of effective marketing going down? How is it, even with all this lightning-fast technology, only 4% of advertising is remembered positively? Why are trusted traders from the general public less than politicians, private landlords or real estate agents?

digital marketing stereotype

MBP? To verify. Flat white? To verify. Creative cloud? To verify.
Does that make me a marketer?

Not only are traders revered as much as something smells bad on the bottom of your shoe. There is a dearth of new young talent entering the industry from a formal education route.

You could say that marketing has a marketing problem.

Too many people think they are a marketer because they know how to design something in Photoshop or Canva. It’s Not Just That Most People With « Marketing » In Their Job Title I have not taken any training in marketing. It’s that business owners are fueling the fire by continuing to hire them.

Where is this taking us? Marketers don’t want (or can’t) speak the language of finance. Accountants make creative decisions based on spreadsheets that just can’t express what they’re trying to streamline. Creativity is a language that few people speak, and those who do are generally beholden to those who don’t.

The reason lies in a misunderstanding of what marketing really is. Give them a MacBook Pro, a Creative Cloud license, and your social media password and Bob is your uncle, right?

The risk is not to be brave – it is the same

What we need is a different, more effective way to communicate our value on boards of all sizes of organizations. What we say and what we want is not the problem. The problem is what we hear.

This is why everyone talks about « being brave » in your marketing. But the way this « bravery » is presented is dead wrong.

The inference of being « brave » is that it is « risky ». But in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. You shouldn’t worry about being brave with your marketing. What should worry you is what happens if you aren’t.

The risk is not to be brave or different. The real risk is to be seen as « the same ». What’s risky is that your brand looks and looks like everyone else in your industry. It is saying and doing the same thing as your competition. Yet this is where 90% of companies are found. It’s no wonder their marketing falls flat.

Everyone wants to be noticed, but no one wants to stand out.

Yes, you have to be brave. Yes, you have to watch, say, and do things that your competition doesn’t want or can’t. But that is not to be brave. It is to be a trader.

Listen, I get it. There is a perception and an understandable feeling of security by the majority. It is a safe and comfortable place. But that’s not how the game is played. Everything else being relative, in simple terms, the more you stand out, the more distinctive you are. The more distinctive and memorable you are, the more visibility you will enjoy and the more successful you will be.

Doing the same as everyone else is where the danger lies, but most of us tend to think otherwise.

There is only one boss: the customer

Sounds good in theory, right? In practice, perhaps the biggest challenge when presenting something like this to management – especially in a homogeneous industry – is the inevitable setback.

« Um, actually I don’t really like it.« 

Sorry, but you must have a better reason than that. Purely subjective comments are not welcome here. As skilled, educated and experienced marketers, we should have gone beyond accepting such nonsense.

man looking at painting in art gallery

 » Sorry I do not understand.
Where is the call to action? « 

Subjectivity concerns things like art galleries, music concerts or cinemas. Subjectivity is for artists – and art is not what we do.

As marketers, we don’t practice “purist creativity” like Jackson Pollock, Miles Davis or Jean-Luc Godard. What we do is “applied creativity”. Creativity with a tangible business result as a goal.

Imagine if you went to your CFO and said « In fact, I don’t particularly like your financial forecast.“Not only would they refuse to accept your position, they probably wouldn’t give anything what you thought. As far as they are concerned, all that matters is whether they are right or not.

It’s the same in marketing. What’s right in marketing is what works. End of the conversation.

Yet for some reason everyone thinks they are a trader. Anyone, regardless of background, education, or experience, thinks their opinion on marketing matters is just as valid as that of someone who (hopefully) actually knows what they’re doing. and why he does it. I’m not questioning your Excel sheet, buddy. Stay in your corner.

Of course, you can have an opinion. Whether you are the boss or the customer, you have the prerogative to like a logo, website, advertisement or whatever. But our job as marketers is to be efficient – to generate a positive ROI. The strategy is clear: the only person who has to love it is the consumer.

The problem is, the way we talk about creative work can steer the conversation towards subjective discussion – which we really need to avoid. Opinions are like elbows – everyone has them.

Marketing effectiveness: beating the bean counters

As Bill Bernbach said over 60 years ago, creativity is the last unfair advantage that we are legally allowed to gain the upper hand over our competitors. Not only has this quote stood the test of time. But one could argue that, in today’s world of increasing regulation, it has never been so prescient.

The problem is, creativity is a finicky concept that’s hard to measure, especially in the short term. It is therefore a source of concern for companies whose idea of ​​long-term planning only goes until the next quarter of sales.

Inevitably, as people controlling the purse strings increasingly focus on easily measurable creative outputs, we end up with all this short-termism. Just because you can easily measure something doesn’t mean it needs to be measured, or even that it counts for anything. In the place of efficiency, we end up focusing on efficiencythat’s why we end up with things like custom audience profiles and remarketing tags. That’s why digital metrics are empowered to drive campaigns, rather than just reporting them.

Creative execution blows up pieces, bad things are measured, the campaign fails, money is wasted – and we are blamed for it. Seems familiar?

Talking about “bravery” hurts our cause. Instead, we should talk about efficiency. How can we show how to minimize risk by placing carefully calculated and fairly safe creative bets.

It is not to be brave. Real bravery is saving people from burning buildings or fighting cancer or whatever. To suggest “braver” marketing belittles what we are doing. It is belittling our expertise, reducing it to reckless roll of the dice, the probability of success being nothing more than a fortuitous accident.

It’s no wonder that few in the conference room trust us with anything more important than ordering tote bags or hosting events.

About the Author

Avatar for Gee Ranasinha

Gee Ranasinha

Gee Ranasinha is CEO and Founder of KEXINO. He’s been a marketer since the days of 56K modems, lectures on marketing and behavioral economics at a European business school, and was ranked one of the world’s top 100 influencers by sage.com (those awesome people who make financial software).

Originally from London, Gee now lives in a world apart from Strasbourg, France, tolerated by his wife and young son.

To learn more about Gee, visit kexino.com/gee-ranasinha. Follow him on Twitter at KEXINO, on Facebook at facebook.com/ranasinha, or on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/ranasinha.

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