OP-ED: The future of marketing lies in ideas, not execution

Look at your business card. If the last word in your company name is "agency," you may want to start polishing your resume.

Look at your business card. If the last word in your company name is "agency," you may want to start polishing your resume.

The agency of the next decade will not be an agency. Already, corporations are turning to firms that can help them reinvent their businesses, not just spin a great story or buy media placements. Execution is out. Ideas are in. In the future, the profits will go to the prophets. Darwin has paid a visit to the advertising industry, and he's on his way to visit you. Sure, many companies are shifting their advertising dollars to PR, but don't get too smug. CEOs are increasingly turning to companies that can offer solid, strategic advice, as well as ideas that will measurably impact the bottom line. It's not enough to manage clients anymore. Idea management demands all new skill sets and talents - thinkers. After all, ideas are the leader's currency, not money. The ability to create ideas better than the competition is the only sustainable advantage a company can have, and the only way that company will have a future. Decide now if your PR company is going to lead. Following won't be an option. PR firms are at a critical point of their existence. It's innovate or evaporate. Innovation in service offerings, products, and marketing will be necessary to break through the clutter we've spent years creating. Instead of creating a campaign that relies on television and print ads, alternative channels will continue to play a key role in enabling companies to segment and focus on winning high-value customers. Testing the effectiveness of campaigns, as well as using long - and recycled - campaigns to establish position in the clutter, will become the norm. Holistic PR will ensure greater coordination across channels and campaigns. Moreover, measurement will be so vital, it will be automatically built into the budget for every campaign. Forget measuring success through clips and spikes in "brand awareness" charts. Throw away the rulers you use to determine column inches so you can assign a value to a hit. The focus on the return on investment is shifting from counting eyes to converting customers. The future for marketing will evolve away from advertising and PR, and toward ideation and realization. Business strategy will drive marketing, which will drive creative. Marketing will have three components: ideation (the thinkers), realization (the executers), and media (the procurers). Old public relations: reflective, static, vendor, cost, cause marketing, publicly held, impacting public perception. New public relations: visionary, kinetic, counselor, investment, effect marketing, publicly healed, impacting public life. We have developed a methodology that enables us to deliver insights and breakthrough ideas that transform organizations. The process works just like the mind. Our theory was that brains were much smarter than you think. We were right. Investigation: It's like doing your homework. It's analytics. Incubation: It's the act of thinking. Slowing down, removing noise so the brain can do its best work. Einstein called it combinatorial play. Illumination: It's the eureka! or aha! moment. Illustration: It's the amplification or articulation of the idea. This process leads to the master idea. The "why" of a company. It teaches, it is timeless, and it is transformative. It articulates a possibility that inspires and fulfills a desire that is fundamental to each and every one of us. Finally, it begs the question, "What would the world lose if your organization did not exist?" If you think the whole notion of being paid for an idea is more charming than realistic, consider this: We may be paid as much as $1 million for a single master idea. Meanwhile, most advertising and PR firms are giving away their best ideas and making money on the execution of ideas. Many of today's advertising and PR agencies are huddled at convention sites like Scottsdale, AZ, trying to find the answer. But the answer isn't there. It can only be found in the ethos and culture of your client's company. It's just not good enough to impact public perception anymore. We must also impact public lives. To accomplish this, companies need more than public relations. They need relationships with the public. This is your charge: to build bridges, not campaigns; to create movements, not programs; to be an advisor, not an agent; and to be a thinker, not an executor. Are you ready? Your clients certainly are.
  • Joey Reiman is founder & CEO of BrightHouse, and is an adjunct professor at the Emory School of Business. He is also author of Thinking for a Living, published by Longstreet Press.

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