How to eat a dinosaur




Dinosaurs are slow to learn and react. That makes them less dangerous than people think.

The dichotomy is Establishment vs Upstart. The Establishment has hubris and looks down on the Upstart. The Clinton presidential campaign is a great example of this. Disregarding competition because "they haven't done this before" is just dumb. Understanding that transferable skills from one area can disrupt another area is very important.

While the Clinton campaign was running "brand" ads on TV, Jared Kushner was building a high performing digital ad unit for the Trump  campaign, with a focus on ROI and understanding where the most political value (defined as number of delegates) was. This was done trough proper analytics like Cambridge Analytica, social listening technology and performance marketing, working very closely with companies like Facebook, that have entire marketing science teams dedicated to measuring various Verticals, with politics (or Government as it is often called) being a top one. A considerable number of these vendors, solutions and strategies are popular in the San Francisco / Silicon Valley / Bay Area tech scene.

Do not get me wrong, traditional channels work as well but you need the proper understanding of what you are trying to achieve and you have to set up the proper measurement. Barack Obama understood this much better with Marketing Mix Modeling and a dedicated big data strategy. Clinton didn't take some of those learnings forward and it was costly.

Traditional marketers are dinosaurs and they are slow to react. Success breeds complacency and most CMOs that are deemed "successful" are, more often then not, simply luckier then the rest of the long tail by being at the right place, at the right time.

Feelings-based decision making is not a winning strategy. IT IS NOT A STRATEGY, PERIOD. I have had fellow marketers tell me "The Out of Home (n.r. billboard) campaign was a success! I had 3 of my friends text me about it  (-high fives air-)". There is this Dilbert comic about it:

This is ABSOLUTELY something that is still happening every day in the industry. This is a 100-year old way of doing things and is going to go away soon, whether marketers like it or not. Accountability, transparency and results are the new paradigm.

However, it is a cyclical process. One can become a dinosaur faster than expected. Success breeds complacency. I like to give Microsoft vs Apple as a macro example of this. Microsoft embraced fresh blood and ideas recently with Satya Nadella making bold acquisition moves and giving the new hires a seat at the table, to the dislike of the Microsoft establishment. The results are showing. Microsoft is innovating again; people say it is beating Apple at most categories. Most importantly it's positioning itself as a cool brand to the new generations. The Minecraft acquisition was genius: in 10 years, new consumers entering the workforce will think of Microsoft as the company that brought them Minecraft. Apple will be the company that their parents loved. Apple will make products for old farts like you and I at the point. Apple will become Microsoft and Microsoft will become Apple.

So are you a Dinosaur? Is your organization a dinosaur ?

How are you doing marketing? Is measurement an afterthought? Do you understand correlation vs causation? Do you have a strategy? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.

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