Marketing Innovation and Disruption in 2018? That’s Easy.

Tony Compton, Managing Director


No January 1, 2018 marketing predictions here.

Well, maybe one.

The only prediction that I’ll make will be that far too many Chief Marketing Officers will do the same thing in the New Year, over and over again, expecting the same predictable, average, unexciting results. If they’re lucky. It’s no wonder the average tenure for a CMO is only a few years.

And CEOs will continue to work with marketing within their safe spaces.

I guess that’s two predictions. But no more.

It’ll all be subject to the same Marketing Groupthink that produces that same, run-of-the-mill results across the board in sales, marketing, and customer service… and every other point of marketing interaction.

Color between the lines, and paint FY18 and FY19 ‘by-the-numbers’ marketing plans like it’s always been done. Rinse and repeat.

To deviate from the norm is to run in opposition to groupthink. Marketing Groupthink.

Don’t believe me?

Check out the job descriptions for Digital Marketing Mangers. Every single one, all day long, reads the same.

Product Marketers? Same thing.

Content Producers? The list goes on.

MarCom, PR, Marketing Ops, Marketing Leadership… each and every approach, company to company, is a Xerox copy. From one to the next.

So no other 2018 predictions needed. With the Talking Heads in mind… same as it ever was.

Oh. I can hear you screaming and going on about how your technology is going to do this, and your company is going to do that in the next year or two. And that very well may be true. There’s some exciting work being done by cool companies. By great people. By phenomenal teams.

Don’t get me wrong, I respect ‘em all. And I want everybody to bring passion, competitiveness, energy, and enthusiasm to the marketplace.

Which brings me back to my opening thought.

How is that going to happen when everybody possesses the same marketing playbook?

You may be launching a terrific product, but your Go-to-Market approach looks like it did a decade ago, feels like it did 20 years ago, sounds like it did 30 years ago and is disconnected from sales, well, the same as it ever was. From company to company.

Marketing Groupthink. Commoditized Marketing.

It’ll leave you short, on the one yard line.

And you don’t want to throw the ball on the one yard line when you have an elite running back. (New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks fans know what I mean.)

Want ideas to disrupt marketing groupthink in 2018, here’s a bunch:

  1. Don’t automatically do those standard operating procedure events. Just because you think you have to be there. Take a long, hard look at each and every event, webinar, expo, convention, trade show, and meeting. Cancel. Reschedule. Take some of that budget and apply it in ways that really drive results.
  2. Create your own events. Road shows. Get out there and talk to your audience. Regional events were my best source for qualified, B2B tech leads. NOT giant budget-busting, week-long industry trade shows.
  3. If you’re going to do any presentation, public speaking opportunity, live video stream, webinar, briefing, or media interview – practice. And do so more than once. Yes, your or team will spend more time in strengthening their communication skills, but it’ll be worth it for two reasons. 1) Every time one of your employees stands in front of an audience and fumbles through their presentation, your brand is damaged. (This goes on all the time.) 2) Your competitors aren’t doing this. All you have to do is watch, listen, and learn. Sit in on one of their presentations. Watch one of their homemade videos. Listen to the tin can sound of their audio recordings. Take any of this seriously and you’ll have an instant competitive edge. (BTW, everybody tells you to practice before any presentation, but nobody shares with you how to practice. If you need help, tips, and advice, just ask.)
  4. Send marketers out on the road with business developers. Have them sit with prospects and customers. Have them present to prospects and customers. Expose them to what’s happening in the field. And do so on a regular basis. Have marketers sit with inside sales as they prospect. Have them listen and learn. And do so on a regular basis. Marketers will quickly see what’s working and not working for inside sales and external business developers. That’s means refining messaging, content and data. That means better sales enablement materials. It also means MarTech evaluation, content usage and content presentation. Competitive analysis and market feedback. The list of benefits is endless… Pull marketers OOO, away from their electronics, and hit the road.
  5. Get the CMO to get with the times. I shared my perspective on the reports that describe how large digital consultancies are making in-roads into the territory that ad agencies used to occupy at many client companies. Nonsense. A lot of that work should already be done by marketing leadership. Simple understanding of audience segmentation, marketing and CRM technology, data usage, and customer interaction across multiple channels of interaction – with added dose of creativity – should not require another seven or eight figure digital consulting contract. This type of work is marketing table stakes.
  6. Find executive leadership who are ready to rock. Gone are the days of CEOs and CMOs sitting back and rubber stamping marketing plans that call for the same methodical product launch plans, the same neglect of marketing communication skills development, the same shortchanging routine approach to content creation, the same, tired formats to customer meetings… Move on from those who don’t get what outstanding marketing can do.
  7. Work through the holidays. This one’s tough a bit tough to explain. I’m all about family and friends first. The holidays should be enjoyed. But, as a hustler and a grinder I must be clear. What’s frustrating are those common OOO emails that read like two month sabbaticals. “I’ll be OOO until Monday, January 8, 2018…” You’re in the business of marketing, and it doesn’t wait. Not for you, nor me. And investors have a funny thing about always hitting their numbers. If you’re not hustling through the holidays, your competitors are. I know I am.
  8. Flip the analyst game of providing a security blanket of feel-good data, information, and research. Oh no, not that. You could never do that! Understand that I value and respect what industry analysts do. (I was one, at least for a little while…) But this notion of “we have to do this with XYZ analyst” is open for a good business marketing challenge, just because you feel you have to do it. Allow me to make this challenge to both the analysts and their overhead-paying customers: you see the industry reports, the surveys, the insights, and the technical analysis. All great, useful, timely material. And damn it feels good when you get it. When your company charts. When you’re kickin’ ass. When your favorite analyst pays attention to your company. But now go grab a stack of files. A big stack of files. Go grab it, carry it over to your desk, and drop it. Just let it fall. Let it spill and fall to the floor. Those are your analyst reports. That’s your analyst material. You paid for the content. Good reports, hard-hitting technical content, vendor evaluations, some customized material with your logo. There’s some marketing activity in there, too: events, webinars, presentations, etc. All great stuff. But go back to the top of this post. Your marketing is stuck on the one yard line. You need innovation, disruption. Healthy internal tension. Creativity. You want to break the marketing mold in 2018. All of that analyst content fits yesterdays feel-good security blanket mold. And you want to break out. The good news is that this hasn’t gone unnoticed. Just look at some of the offerings by two of the large, very well-known, familiar analyst groups and it will tell you that the tide is at least shifting to include consultative engagements to produce unique marketing outcomes. It needs to go further. Flip the script and drive more, innovative value from your analyst relationships.
  9. Change marketing management style. Allow for remote marketing. Let creativity flow. Brainstorm. I never considered marketing a 9 to 5 job. It isn’t. Creativity hits all hours of the day and night. It’s not always on demand at 8:30 am sitting in a cube in an office with the excitement of a university library. Measure and report, yes. But there will be those on your marketing team wired for creativity. Nurturing that business talent will pay off with innovations to how marketing is managed.
  10. Let marketing own and rock your January sales kickoff.

These ideas will do more to disrupt and innovate your marketing efforts than any artificial intelligence, voice-enabled device, or slick piece of technology using combed-over, headache-inducing data that will help swell the MarTech 5000 to the MarTech 6000.

And I love reading and hearing about those tech advancements. In fact, I want you to hear my voice anytime you interact with a company using a dominant male voice with a high-energy Chicago accent to front their customer experience audio. I’ll front the automotive CX, anything for the US military, sports, technology, retail… but I digress…

If you want to innovate and disrupt your marketing groupthink in 2018, start with those 10 ideas. Easy, sure. Necessary, you bet. But you and I know what some people will do as a result.

And I have one more prediction for 2018.

12 months from now you’ll be preparing for your holiday break. You’ll look down on your marketing report for the previous 10 1/2 months.

It’ll show you did the same industry trade shows in SF, Vegas, and Chicago.

It’ll show you did the same work, with the same industry analysts.

It’ll show you launched your product the same way every vendor in your space launches theirs.

It’ll show that year-over-year % increase in spend, but with the same results.

Worse, you’ll know about the same discontent salespeople, executives, investors, and marketing colleagues.

And all that as the tenure just got shorter, and the window of marketing opportunity closes.

Damn. I guess that’s three predictions.


For more on Challenging the Status Quo of #Marketing Groupthink, follow me on Twitter: @tonycompton, @GettingPresence

For immediate #presentation & #publicspeaking tips, visit the GettingPresence website.