Peter Drucker once said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” That’s great, but may also require us to recreate ourselves in the process. With that in mind, here are three broad principals to embrace to as we imagine the future of our business: Longevity, Connectivity and Creativity.
Learning to think about “Long Ideas” is a challenge because it is a different model from the one we grew up with. It is a challenge for clients when it comes to budgeting and reporting. It is also a challenge in health, where we are often limited to a finite number of things we can talk about.
So how do we break through the three-month barrier? Well we should start by looking beyond the product attributes and consider the difference a brand can make in the world. What is the human need beyond the treatment? There are a couple of interesting examples in the Multiple Sclerosis space, where marketers have understood that people want community more than advertising, and some have provided it. And being bold enough to allow comments, means there is an authenticity that is impossible to fake.
This Longevity, in turn, creates the Connectivity that we need to put front and center as we evolve.
This isn’t just about creating a long-lasting social media presence – although that never hurts; it is finding the best way your brand can serve the people it is striving to connect with. It might be community-driven, it may be research-driven or it might be opening green markets in underprivileged areas and teaching kids to cook the vegetables they never had before. Put a real human need at the heart of what you do, and you’ll create something that lasts longer and is more memorable than any ad you could dream up.
Of course, finding a real reason to connect to a brand is really hard. One approach is to look beyond the “brand purpose” that everyone is talking about these days and find a “shared purpose” that resonates with all stakeholders, not just the client. A favorite example of this is Subaru, who aligned under an environmental purpose that resonated with their company, their employees, the people who drive their cars and, after building the eco-friendliest car factory in the U.S., the government. The benefit of finding the right shared purpose is that you have plenty to talk about. More importantly it makes you inherently human-centric and, over time, deeply relevant. Ask any sales rep and they’ll tell you that relevance, just like trust, is built over time.
The third leg of the stool is creativity: our only differentiator in a programmatic world. Ideas will continue to be critical (perhaps more than ever), but we need to invite others into the creative department to bring them up to date; bring in media, technology and data. Bring in channel experts and specialists. Bring in media properties. All of these add the necessary dimension that that big, long ideas require today.
Finding these new ideas and stories, together with new ways and places to tell them will matter more and more. Embracing the three pillars of Longevity, Connectivity and Creativity together with all of the new and different ways to approach them is not easy and there is a lot of muscle-memory to unlearn. But as the futurist John Naisbitt said, “The most important skill to acquire now is learning how to learn.”