Said I’d Like To Know Where, You Got The Notion.

Your marketing strategy? I have two words for you:

Friends. Reunited.

Yep, that’s where all the action is now.

No, wait – I meant Groupon.

Sorry, that should have been Facebook.

My mistake: it’s Twitter.

Actually, Snapchat.

One of the striking things about agencies is their incessant over-enthusiasm for the latest channel.

They obsess about it. Some go as far as to (proudly, but naively) describe themselves as centred on one channel.

This is bizarre.

Channels move on, develop, change, grow, become obsolete. As an agency, competence in different channels is, of course, required but that is not what clients are buying. Not the clients worth having anyway. What they want to buy, as the CEO of a very big leisure company confirmed to me recently, is ideas.

It’s true that in the early days of any new channel, there is some (limited) benefit in being seen as knowing how to ‘execute’ that channel. But very quickly the inevitable creeping commoditisation of the 21st Century means that anyone (including – shock, horror! – clients themselves) can execute stuff very quickly indeed. And very, very cheaply.

In fact, the same leisure company CEO also said to me: ‘I can get stuff made anywhere. And I know how much it costs. Good, new, workable ideas, though, they are much harder to come by.’

Ideas that work not just for Friends Reunited or whatever the channel du jour may happen to be, but ideas that work for human beings.

This is perhaps so achingly self-evident that you’d think it barely warrants stating. But talking to CMOs around the world, I have been genuinely surprised by how many of them feel that their agencies just ‘don’t get it’ in this respect.

Some of that is about the questionable quality of too many of agency folk these days but it’s also about the whole industry having flip-flopped itself into a place where channel is the king.

It is not.

The channel is just the vehicle. The vehicle only matters to the extent that it helps get all of us to the right destination.

And it’s ‘the destination’ that we should all be focused on.

Recently, The Huffington Post convinced a bunch of very brave people to let a camera take a snap of them every 15 minutes – whilst they were asleep.

The results are, I think, surprisingly cute. But, more to the point, they serve as an excellent reminder of the true nature of ‘the destination’.

Because beyond all the razzmatazz, the agency bullshit and tech talk, our job as marketers is to prove that we are worthy of occupying a small part of the most valuable media real estate in the world – the human mind.

The task is not about channels. Never has been, never will be.

It’s about understanding, and then appealing to, vulnerable, naked apes – who like nothing more than a good snuggle.

– this piece first published by The Marketing Society

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