I was sitting at a stoplight the other day when a pedestrian walked across in front me. She had spiked hair, was covered in tattoos and was wearing an ‘I don’t predict, I perform.’ t-shirt. That struck a chord with me as somehow very relevant to where marketing finds itself as a profession. It’s a crossroads of old and new, of prediction and performance.
Despite what we in the digital bubble think, the majority of all marketers are still predictors. But, that majority continues to dwindle as performance becomes imperative to compete. Phrases like ‘I think’, ‘I guess’ and ‘we believe’ are giving way to ‘I know’, ‘I’m certain’ and ‘we’re confident’. That change is due to the continuing migration to accountable digital spend, and in large part, to accessible technologies that are agile, transparent and powerful.
And for all the tech that makes it possible, ideas and creativity are the big winners in this more democratic marketing landscape. Rather than approaching new ideas with trepidation, or staunchly defending a predicted winner based on our gut, we can now say ‘try it’ with confidence and accountability. Because ‘try it’ today means test it. And testing leads to knowing, not guessing. So all ideas truly are good ideas — until they fail.
Not too many years ago, transforming from a predictor to a performer was much harder than it is today. Arduous, expensive technologies had to be implemented by throngs of IT teams working hand-in-hand with infrastructure, business intelligence and creative teams. And in the end, everyone (especially the C-level) wondered what they learned and if it was worth it.
Today, small, agile teams of marketers can perform independently — executing on ideas in less time than it used to take just to plan to execute. And their results can be business changing.
The good news is that transforming from a predictor to a performer is now attainable for almost all of us. It’s a choice we can each make, because the dependencies are gone. We are empowered marketers. But don’t worry, becoming a performance-focused marketer doesn’t mean you need spiked hair or tattoos. Although those are other choices you are certainly free to make.