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Separating Creativity from Technology in Thinking about Marketing Innovation [UML]

Separating Creativity from Technology in Thinking about Marketing Innovation

innovation [noun] 1: the introduction of something new; 2: a new idea, method, or device: NOVELTY (Merriam-Webster)

How many people think of technology when they hear the word innovation? I’d imagine it most.

In marketing, we tend to use those two words interchangeably (I’m guilty of this too). There’s a case to say they are related, but they are also something short of synonymous.

However, when I really think about the word innovation in marketing, I tend to think of creativity.

It’s the notion that we are thinking differently in our approach to promote, present, educate or entertain with the goal of selling a product or service. While technology can certainly change how we do marketing, it’s still reliant on creative inputs.

In some ways, innovation in marketing is like positioning – it’s a mindset.

And that’s the theme for this week’s Unscripted Marketing Links. As it is on the occasional Saturday, I roundup three related links to studies or big ideas, wrap them in insight and present them here for your perusal.

1) Tech innovation steals from innovation in thinking.

The analytics and martech tools we have today are far superior to what was available 10 years ago. Yet despite having access to all these resources, innovation in marketing thinking has diminished, according to Rick Gardinier in a contribution to MediaPost.

He makes several points as to why, and here are a few that stood out for me:

  • “Out of necessity, we were more inventive. There weren’t a lot of standards yet defined. Things simply weren’t as figured out, so there was more freedom to invent.”
  • “Marketers were still working outside of IT constraints to an extent. As IT took over web platforms, CRM systems, and even custom web applications, we’ve become more similar in our approaches, and more risk-averse as well.”

Despite the bravado of “fail fast” that we hear so often today, Mr. Gardinier says he saw a greater willingness to accept failure a decade ago.

Read the complete article: Why B2B Marketers Were More Innovative 10 Years Ago

2) Growing responsibility for both tech and innovation.

Technology and innovation may be intertwined, but marketer leaders say their responsibility for both have grown. A survey of 218 marketers by Target Marketing asked about these two items separately and here’s how the answers stacked up:

  • 65% say they have “more” or “much more” responsibility for innovation; and
  • 77% say they have “more” or “much more” responsibility for technology.

Thorin Mcgee, the former editor-in-chief for the publication, pointed out in a summary article, “very few of our respondents reported that any responsibilities were decreasing.”

From my perspective, if there’s an action item her for marketing leaders, it’s to carve out time to think and brainstorm. With a growing list of responsibility, it’s too easy to fall into habits and templates that lead to that sea of sameness.

Read the complete article: The State of Marketing Leadership 2018; Full report: How to Drive a Successful Marketing Strategy in 2018 (reg. req.)

(click image for higher resolution) Marketing has a growing responsibility for both tech and innovation.

3) Spending on marketing tech and innovation grows.

Coverage stemming from the 2018 CMO Survey by Gartner how tech and innovation get lumped together in the same category. Writing for Marketing Land, reporter Jennifer Cannon noted:

  • “Marketing technology now accounts for almost a third of marketing’s budget, while in-house labor investment loses shares;” and
  • “One in every $6 spent by CMOs is invested in innovation, despite doubts in the skills and capabilities available to support these programs.”

Why should marketers care?

“As martech investments increase, marketers should expect increased visibility into digital marketing performance. Direct channel attribution should be a top priority for digital marketers and organizations looking to innovate and advance their marketing programs.”

But for me that’s the hitch: better attribution is an incremental improvement and while that’s good, it’s not necessarily innovation. So, grouping these together allows you to check the box for innovation without really doing anything new.

That’s important because the number of clicks and conversions you can squeeze out of what you are doing now is finite. Marketing efforts have a lifecycle the same way products do. At some point, you have to do something different, and innovation is a whole lot harder when you haven’t truly been thinking about it creatively.

Complete article: CMOs spent 29 percent of 2018 marketing budget on marketing technology


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Image credit: Unsplash; Target Marketing

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