Turn the innovation lens on marketing itself

In Europe, or at least in the EU, this is the year of innovation.  The official EU slogan of 2009 is “Imagine. Create. Innovate.”  And they have a neat website to go with it.

The innovation lens has been placed on nearly aspect of corporations today.  Product innovations. Supply Chain innovations. Innovative ways to deliver services. Technical innovations.  Even the word  “Innovation” is baked into the attributes and values of so many companies. It is the rallying cry of internal communications. As marketers we often see ourselves as the champions of innovations, champions of that brave new product or service which will revolutionize the world!

Curiously there is one place inside of most corporations that has not been placed under the magnifying glass of the innovationers. (There, I just innovated by coining a new word!) And that one area is marketing itself.

The current models for marketing were developed over 30 years ago and polished during decades of relatively stable economic growth.  Now is the time to innovate marketing itself, to create new models of how marketing works. It is time for taking bold new approaches to marketing.

 The risks of experimenting with new models of marketing are now much lower than the risks of the status quo. Because who wants the status quo of today’s economy?

What would happen if we applied the EU slogan to marketing?  How could we imagine, create and innovate the very process of marketing?  What would it mean for increasing accountability?  What would it mean for having more flexible marketing programs?  What would it mean for giving marketing the tools to better integrate new media and traditional media? 

It would not mean putting up a corporate facebook page or spending money on creating new tribes.  It would not mean having everyone in marketing wear cool glasses and casual clothing.  It does not mean giving a spiffy new terminology to the same old stuff.

It would mean getting down the very theory of marketing and rebuilding it to fit today’s world.  It would mean having a new way of thinking about the marketing organization.  It would mean finding new ways to increase the productivity and accountability of marketing.

Some companies are doing this either deliberately or without recognizing that they are doing so.  Google. Apple. McDonald’s. Samsung. 

So let’s make 2009 the year that we imagine, create and innovate the very methods and models of marketing itself!

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