I recently read a great Ad Age article by Chris Kuenne, Four [Marketing] Talent Categories You Need to Win in a Connected World. Recognizing that many marketing organizations still cling to discredited, “old school” marketing and PR, Chris Kuenne provided a timely description of the new talents, skills and attitudes found in today’s “new rules” marketing organizations that are actively contributing to company growth and success.
Chris Kuenne listed four skill categories vital for today’s successful marketing organization – Strategic, Analytic, Program Design and Technological – which, combined with talent-building marketing leadership, will yield well-orchestrated “personally relevant experiences” that “translate the brand promise into relevant and entertaining interactions that always seem fresh and new.”
To support his spot-on core point that “the old set of skills and conventional deployment will not work,” Chris Kuenne offered a sports analogy:
In [American] football, everyone is a specialist with a distinct position and responsibility. Each player goes one-on-one against his opponent, helping the team advance the ball in a linear fashion down the field. Marketing over the past 50 years reflected this linear approach, in which a brand’s marketing plan specified a highly planned, seldom altered, set of initiatives…Today marketing is closer to rugby. All players handle multiple roles, using many different skills…
I agree with Chris Kuenne’s historical and current assessment of the marketing function. However, Chris’ description of football is outdated: today’s game of football is actually brimming with innovative tactics. Perhaps I underappreciate the tactics in rugby, but I see a lot of parallels between the practices of winning “new rules” marketing organizations and winning football teams:
Transformation through Innovation. Both football and today’s marketing function have benefited dramatically from innovation. The one-on-one, seldom-altered, linear genre of football described by Chris Kuenne is an accurate description of the “smashmouth” version of the sport as it was played over a century ago, as exemplified by the feared Army football team and its predictable but brutal, physically punishing running game.
And so it went, until Notre Dame, in 1913, under new coach Jess Harper, unveiled an innovation that would thankfully transform the game: Notre Dame took unprecedented full advantage of the forward pass (!), recently legalized but widely ignored. Practiced that summer by quarterback Gus Dorais and offensive end and legend-to-be Knute Rockne, Notre Dame’s passing plays bewildered the Army defense for a lopsided 35-13 upset victory. (Of course, clever, daring plays unimaginable even a decade ago continue an ever-accelerating trend of innovation on the football field.)
It is amazing in hindsight that marketing has not experienced such dramatic transformation until recently. At roughly the same time as Notre Dame’s game-transforming forward pass innovation, John Wanamaker, the pioneer of the department store, made his famous remark, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Similar frustrations by marketers have continued on right up to present day! Thankfully, marketing innovations today are replacing decades of plodding, seldom-altered, and maddeningly difficult to measure interruption marketing with a still-evolving paradigm of content marketing, permission marketing and marketing automation technologies. The marketing function is finally undergoing its own game-changing, “forward pass” of innovation and transformation. More >>
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