Studying the impact of innovation on business and society

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…

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

The Future of Marketing Has Little To Do with Marketing

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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 them every and any way possible while attempting to control your story is not only the old way, it’s the very thinking that’s held marketing back for decades. But you? You’re at the forefront of a new era and marketing communications and its future is in your hands.

Understand this opportunity that’s before you. While technology is certainly part of the story, it’s not the story.

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 with 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 that 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?


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, 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. But, we both knew who was really in control.

When snowboarding 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. I was also excited by how quickly it had become a trend. 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 quickly and painfully, that I did the very thing that you’re not supposed to do. See, in surfing, and also 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 try to work, I would have failed. Once they did, 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 and 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’re broadcasting and not connecting, talking and not listening, calendering not investing, justifying and validating not creating value. 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 and its direction and future is unwritten. This is your time and consider what a wonderful moment and chance that’s before you.

1) #LeanForward and forget what you think you know

2) Define your purpose

3) Define your vision

4) Justify your value proposition, what’s special, for a new generation of customers and stakeholders…and YOU

5) Articulate how you intend to improve experiences and relationships and apply that to strategy development

6) Invest in building communities where the value is much more than belonging to something, it’s about doing something together that makes belonging matter

7) Use technology to bring everything to life rather than using new technology to do what you’ve always done…talk AT people

8) Stop making excuses. The future of engagement lies in the connection of every customer-facing department. Collectively you are responsible for the experience. This isn’t in your job description but it is your destiny.

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.


About Share This Too

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.

My new book…#WTF

Connect with me: Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook | Google+ |Youtube | Instagram

36 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “The Future of Marketing Has Little To Do With Marketing”

  1. Ankit Sapra says:

    Wow I mean woww what a wonderful article ,u made me stop for a second while i was running and now after reading your article i found that i really didn’t need to run rather walking in my situation is better Thanks fo this beautiful article

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