"Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." - Harold R. McAlindon
Over the last few days, I have sat in a number of business meetings with fortune 500 marketers who all seem to have the same problem. There is a huge data conundrum. Everyone of them spoke of the large agency partners having either too little of an understanding of their data across all channels or that their digital & direct agencies who were in analysis paralysis and could not produce assets that met the data and technology demands of the new mediums. (Often referred to as perishable assets.) Now that we are in post-digital era where people and our customers leave digital finger prints behind on everything they touch, why have the people who are supposed to be experts at the customers not figured out how to deliver new value to the Post-Digital client?
One of my early mentors, Marc Beeching once said, "The best stories are like a great piece of music. They have a beginning, middle and an end. Sometimes you have to decide which pieces go where" I think that analogy holds true for the data conundrum brands are in.
Much of the Industrial Age and the Information Ages required focus and specialization. But as white collar work has gotten routed to Asia and reduced to software, there is a new premium on the opposite aptitude: putting the pieces together, or what I call a Symphony. What is in greatest demand today isn't more analysis, but synthesis-- seeing the big picture, crossing boundaries and being able to combine disparate pieces in to an arresting new whole.
For marketing & brand leaders and digital & traditional agencies alike who do not wish to follow their competitors down a path to a commoditized value exchange -- which is the typical path that many continue to travel -- They have a choice. Live in the past or get down to imagining and forging a new trail to the profitable future.
I have quickly found that you must marry your creative skill sets to a vastly uncomfortable place to survive. Dare I say "Data Synthesis". As a creative leader you must act like a composer or a great conductor (my favorite is Gustavo Dudamel) . Ask yourselves which symphony will you write for your brand or clients? Will it tell a story? Will it have empathy? What meaning will it carry? How will it be designed?
Next time your clients or potential clients ask you to show them your value -- create a symphony.
Your audience will listen and remember you.
Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.