I was recently sitting in a plane catching up on email, research and presentations when an article from April caught my eye. It featured the title “Marketing is dead” and was a quote by the CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi. In fact, his statement was even broader stating that marketing and strategy are dead. He was speaking at the IoD’s annual conference in London. While I can appreciate the impact of making outrageous statements and how that creates a more exciting presentation, I took umbrage with his position. As this piece traveled around Intel’s marketing department and the desks of other Marketeers, I heard similar thoughts to mine.
Here is one of the statements that was made:
“Strategy is dead. Who really knows what is going to happen anymore…the more time and money you spend devising strategies, the more time you are giving your rivals to start eating your lunch”
It’s easy to pass this off as a statement for effect or say that it’s self-serving for an agency, which was my original assessment. As I spoke to several colleagues and thought more about some of the comments, it became representative of something bigger that I think we need to consider.
We are living in a world where we strive for innovation, agility, creativity, awards, reach, etc. In this highly evolved and tech-connected era we live in, more things are possible than ever before. So do we skip marketing strategies and detailed briefs because they hold us back? Should we reward creativity and encourage speed and innovation over strategy?
I firmly believe in innovation and speed. I also believe that when we are so quick to react, or act on unrelated creative ideas, that we lose sight of the big picture. A great strategy should directly relate to great creative. Our job is to drive the business and in some cases it’s about building a stronger brand, in others it’s about engagement and relevance and finally in many it’s about impacting sales and revenue. Imagine executive management’s perspective if we all decided that business goals and strategies don’t matter. That we’re pursing creative ideas because we can and that we’ve taking the “leash” off our agencies and internal creative teams.
My growing concern is less about Mr Roberts’ provocative stance. I also agree with him that today’s ideas are important but ideas without grounding in an objective and strategy risk taking Marketing back to the dark ages where we didn’t have a seat at the table or were viewed as a nice to have. CMO’s, senior marketing execs and teams of talented professionals have worked hard to garner respect for both the art and science of their roles. At Intel we are working hand in hand across the company to become a more “market inspired” company because we believe that will make us more in tune with the market and better equipped to develop technologies and solutions that will change the world. With the advances in technologies that allow us to produce and develop creative faster than ever, and the availability of channels that provide instant access and publishing, we need to weigh our desire to be creative with meeting the needs of our business. I think the happy medium where we can do both necessitates strategic insight and direction. There is a place for strategy and we need to understand that marketing strategies are not an excuse for taking too long or stifling creativity. We continue to see creativity flourish at Intel, and the work we do with our partners all the time.
Speed to market and creativity should not be about skipping strategy but rather about being agile and smart.