It occurred to me last night that 2 months from now I will have spent 20 years in marketing. This realization brought up two different but related thoughts from a couple mentors in my life.
I made it a practice to keep from getting stale by changing my career every 5 years. When I would talk to my dad about my decision process, he would always ask:
“Do you feel like you’re getting 5 years of experience or 5 times 1 year of experience?”
An author friend of mine way back, Tim Powers, told me once as we were hanging out at one of his book signings drinking Coors Light:
“You have to write a million words of crap before you can write anything good.”
Luckily, I feel I’ve passed both tests. I feel like every year of my career I have learned something new and posted a major success. And if the 1,200 Powerpoint presentations on my hard drive are any indicator, I have certainly written my million words.
I’ve had several book ideas I’ve started developing over the last couple of years about marketing, and this milestone in my life concretes the fact that I need to finally buckle down and write it. 20 years gave me this idea: I’m going to discuss 20 different aspects of marketing using different client engagements to tell each story. I will likely have to blind a lot of the brand names in the examples so I don’t get anyone in trouble, but the stories, results and related insights will come from working with such brands as Princess Cruises, Memorex, Autodesk, Viewsonic, Cisco, Levis, Canon, Disney, Hewlett Packard, Quiksilver, Qualcomm, the City of San Luis Obispo, and many more.
About half of my life has been business-to-business marketing and half has been business-to-consumer. The one thing every engagement has taught me is that there is always room for big thinking executed simply. They have also taught me that as much as everyone wants to think that today’s marketing is so much more complicated, it really isn’t. We make it complicated. People are still people with the same desires and motivators. They respond in the same ways to the same things. Until they don’t.
If you show somebody something new, they will respond in a new way.
That is the overriding lesson I’ve learned. If we want to change customer behavior, we have to change approach as marketers. And we have to do it before our competitors and creators in other industries that affect our customers’ lives do it for us. The book will articulate the many marketing challenges I’ve been presented with, the new way each was addressed, the outcomes of those – both good and bad – how each contributes to where I believe marketing is going and how you need to be prepared.
Check out the article I wrote in February of 2010: “Preparing for the End of the Web. A Prophecy for Marketing Executives.” Three and a half years later, much of what I said then has either come to pass, or is very much on track. The book will be even better.
Here’s where you come in. I’ll be posting snippets on this blog as I make progress, and if you feel there is an issue the book should address, I’ll do my best to include it. If you don’t agree with my stance, challenge me. You’ll find I’m well-prepared for a debate, but I am also very open-minded to learning. That’s key to not getting 5 times 1 year of experience. So help me be as valuable to you as I can be.
Now, let’s get writing.