Op-Ed: Lean Forward into the Future of Marketing

Do you realize just how much is changing right now? I promise you that it’s bigger than you think.

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You see, in surfing and skateboarding, your back foot is essentially the rudder. You steer by leaning back using your back foot to steer the course. In snowboarding, it’s the exact opposite. To control your direction, you must lean forward.

All it took was someone to point out that there was a different philosophy to the approach. Had someone not showed me the err of my ways, that is taking what I know and forcing it as a way of making something new work, I would have failed. Once I understood, I was in control. I didn’t need a book to tell my about style or personalization; I let my mind, body, and soul guide the board … my way. I just needed clarity, direction, an open mind, perseverance, and several pep talks.

Today in what is nothing less than an emergent moment for marketing communications, I see even the best of them leaning back because it’s what they know. Instead of inventing, re-inventing or leading, we are stuffing promise into familiarity. We are broadcasting instead of connecting, talking and not listening, calendering in lieu of investing, justifying and validating without creating value.


Leaning Forward in the Future of Marketing

To lean forward takes a different approach, perspective and a different philosophy otherwise you’re wasting time and opportunity. If you take a moment to think about it, everything is different about what’s taking place now, the direction and future is unwritten. Consider the opportunity to lean forward and:

  • Forget what you think you know
  • Define your purpose
  • Clarify your vision
  • Justify your value proposition
  • Articulate how you will improve customer experiences
  • Invest in building communities where the value is much more than belonging to something, it’s about doing something together that makes belonging matter
  • Use technology to bring everything to life rather than using new technology to do what you’ve always done — talk at people

Again I ask. What is the value of what you do? What is in it for you, your business and those with whom you engage? This time, think about it beyond your company. Think about it from the perspective of the people you’re hoping to reach … every step of the way.

Value is not boundless. Value is in the eye of the beholder and it varies based on the context of the relationship and your desired outcomes. It is relationships after all that form the foundation of business. Marketing communications are merely enablers for conveying value while also investing in and reinforcing relationships.

What you do and how you do it now serves a higher purpose. This is why I believe that your role is much grander than you ever realized.

Lean forward.

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