The Gift of Unforeseen Marketing
Go with us now, into the Way Back Machine. We travel back in time to a time and location just prior to the Second World War. The city is New York and the Brooklyn Dodgers are about to take on the Philadelphia Phillies on a beautiful summer day — July 1, 1941.
An ancient artifact appears on the handful of local televisions in the city, a TV test pattern, designed to assist the station to set its cameras and equipment optimally. But wait; something is different here. There are clock hands and a sweeping second hand over the Indian’s face! In a corner of the screen are the worlds “Bulova Watch Time.” The second hand spun a full 60 second circle before vanishing to Ebbets Field and the cry of “Play Ball!” blared from tiny speakers.
Yes, Bulova, a premier timepiece company of that era, spent a grand total of $4.00 to display the name of their firm and a super-imposed clock face for one minute. This inauspicious occasion marked the very first TV ad.
75 years later, the media marketing world looks a whole lot different. Even the discipline is almost no longer recognizable. Most important, marketers have lost sight of our most precious resource: Time.
In the early days of mass media, a marketer’s job was largely defined by what was known as “McCarthy’s 4P’s “ (Product, Price, Promotion, Placement) and most marketing work could be planned out a year or more in advance. That initial discipline ramped up to a more complex dynamic as technology and simple computing matured (more channels). Once the internet caught fire and gained broad adoption (masses of people), and sophisticated software became the complex backbone of global enterprise (more of everything), everything took flight. All this has re-set a serious change to the timescale; a measurement with which all of us operate. Today’s marketers must move at a pace far faster than the world around them.
Moving from the 4P’s and a specifically focused and limited marketing mix to managing an infinite numbers of digital channels, an ever-growing and always-going customer base, created a seemingly exponential amount of new work and data points for modern marketers. All the while, as the complexity grew, so too did the demand for efficiency as software drove everything across the broader organization.
Yes, marketing has secured more budget, the CMO is still the most turnover-prone member of the C-suite and brand/agency relationship seems much shorter than ever. Even more of a challenge are the corporate raiders coming into companies with their sights set directly on the marketer. Zero Based Budgeting (ZBB) now lives as the marketer’s core vernacular. In a world of ZBB, every dollar is magnified to watch it closely. Some serious questions rise around ‘non-working’ costs (those dollars you spend to actually make marketing, rather than simply buying the media space). Every marketing effectiveness model targets media spending. Therefore, justifying (and even explaining) ‘non-working’ costs can be a real challenge and there’s no end in sight.
To the corporate marketing element, Unforeseen Marketing is a terrible consequence of being in the right place at the right time and taking advantage of it.
Yes, most marketing today is sadly so uncreative, that anything not adhering absolutely to The PLAN must be discarded, eliminated and ignored. The way the corporate world sees an undisturbed, one minute TV ad for Bulova watches that cost $4. and is viewed by thousands in a major market is a total waste. To them, Unforeseen Marketing is any marketing activity that takes up time but doesn’t “add value” to their existing campaign.
A longer definition would be that marketing must reject and eliminate any work that doesn’t ladder up to a campaign, an existing process, KPI, or positioning that was previously agreed upon in advance. Modern marketing now requires reactive creative, always-on customer service, and continuous planning, Unforeseen Marketing arises when activities are disconnected from this set strategy and there isn’t a process to better deal with them. Seriously.
To us at BSG, Unforeseen Marketing emerges quite differently.
Something beyond the stringent workflow that cascades across countries and timezones while still being a largely manual, different process that compliments independently.
It is a Social Media viral explosion; a Twitter fire that they can’t see but that ‘fires up’ everything out there.
When there’s a new logo that not every market has, and you have the opportunity to contrast and compare across diverse channels.
The TVs in your marketing room that have endless streams of new data that have nothing to do with the agreed upon KPIs — and that in itself is a great bonus.
Carpe Diem — Seize the Day!
Our totally programmed, statistically filled, always predictable, play it safe world, has no place for inventiveness and spontaneity.
That is why the rest of the market is following to play catch up with leading edge firms like BSG…right after they take a few months to analyze, structure a plan, create quantifiers, and so much more. And then wonder why they are falling behind.