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The Future of Marketing Has Little To Do With Marketing


While I don’t always have the ability to say yes to writing forewords, I do find time now and then to do so. One of the conditions however is that I’m allowed to share my thoughts, unabridged, with you here. The latest is for a new book, Share This Too, released by Wiley, the publishing house that I also worked with on #WTF, #EOB, #Engage. Thank you to my good friend Paul Fabretti for the opportunity…

The follow up to Share This: The Social Media Handbook for PR Professionals, Share This Too is a practical handbook that outlines the changes taking place in media and marketing. Written by 24 marketing and public relations practitioners, the book covers the state of the media and public relations industry, social media strategy, technology and social networks, online media relations, monitoring and measurement, new skills and expertise, and the future of the industry.

Without further delay, allow me to share this (foreword) too…

The Future of Marketing Has Little To Do with Marketing

Do you realize just how much is changing right now? I promise you that it’s bigger than you think. And your role in this is also much grander than you know or believe. See, disruptive technology, social networks, new influencers, they’re leveling the media hierarchy. The ado of crafting messages, pushing them upon targets, and propagating while attempting to control your story is not only the old way, it’s the very thinking that’s at the forefront of new communications.

This isn’t about the new tools that are before you.

This isn’t about social media or popular social networks.

This isn’t about bloggers and blogging.

Nor is this about tablets, smartphones, and the app economy.

This is about putting the public back in public relations and social in social media and that has nothing to do tools or technology we overly celebrate today. Slow down. Take a breath. While there’s an abundance of change there isn’t a wealth of innovation in processes or methodologies.

The truth is that in a time when we could change everything, we’re running without clarity of direction or vision. We’re not necessarily talking about a revolution as much as we’re conforming revolutionary opportunities into familiar packages. We’re merely taking what we know and applying it to what’s new. In many ways, we’re working against ourselves. But, what’s happening right now is both revolutionary and evolutionary. And in the face of the unknown it is courage the carries us forward and creativity that will open new doors.

This is a time to rethink the value proposition of marketing and communications and your role within it.

Why is what you do important? Stop. Try that answer again. There’s a reason that your friends and family have a hard time understanding what you do for a living. It’s because the value you think you provide and the opportunity that is presenting itself to you are in fact two very different things. Essentially, your experience carried you this far but it is your vision and ambition that will carry you forward. Think again about the value you offer and the value that others say you deliver.

Allow me to share a slice of my life with you…

I’ve fond memories of surfing. I would grab my board and wetsuit, play great music, and head for the beaches of Southern California. The ocean was my sanctuary as I would surf for recreation, therapy and also tranquility. There was just something about the smell of the ocean, the sound of the waves, and the ability to dance with Mother Nature in a way where she let you lead and you appreciated the momentary gesture.

When snow boarding grew in popularity, I immediately embraced it. I did so because I saw it an art form that was easy to categorize against something familiar. In fact I thought of it as winter surfing and I was wrong to do so. I brought to something new my previous experience and expected it to carry me forward into new territory in a very different environment. What I didn’t bring along was a new and open mindset. I over confidently got on my board, leaned back as you do in surfing and set out to surf that mountain the way I thought I should. I learned, quite painfully, that I did the very thing that you’re not supposed to do. See, in surfing, and skateboarding, your back foot is essentially the rudder. You steer by leaning back and using your back foot to steer your course. In snowboarding, it’s the exact opposite. You lean forward.

All it took was someone to point out that there was a different philosophy to the approach. Once they did, I was as soulful on a snowboard as I was surfing. It just took an open mind, perseverance, and several ice packs.

Today in what is nothing less than an emergent moment for marketing and communications, I see even the best of them leaning back instead of leaning forward. It takes a different philosophy. It takes a different approach. If you take a moment to think about it, everything is different about what’s taking place now and its direction and future is unwritten.

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

Value is not boundless. Value 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 and 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 in this is much grander than you may realize or believe. Lean forward.



Join The Conversation

  • sprout_sarah's picture
    Sep 13 Posted 3 years ago sprout_sarah

    Great post, Brian. This is incredibly inspiring being in the industry. I can relate to the fact that my family and friends don't quite understand what I do and the purpose or reach of my efforts. Definitely the best time to 'lean forward' is now. 

  • Sep 13 Posted 3 years ago Sean Kingston Clark

    Hi Brian, 

    I completely agree with your post. I'm fairly new to social media as a career and sometimes I feel like the traditional marketing process slows down everything. Sure, it does take planning, but social media needs to be rooted in it's first word, being social. We can't predict outcomes as much as we'd like to because we don't know how people on an individual basis will react but that's where being social in real life can translate into a brand. 

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