Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
March 11, 2011 6:03 PM

The iPad Won't Save You

How were the line-ups today outside of the Apple stores?

You're going to read, see and hear non-stop coverage of the iPad 2 today (and for the next few days). The bigger news is this: the iPad won't save you. I'm talking to advertisers, publishers, media professionals, marketers and professional communicators. No device is going to save your industry or act as a savior to where your current business is running.

The disruption of technology and new media will only fuel more disruption.

On February 28th, 2011, PaidContent ran an article titled, Sir Martin Sorrell: Apple iPad Won't Save Us. Sorrell is CEO of WPP and widely regarded as one of the go-to people when it comes to gauging the temperature of both the advertising industry and the general economic health of the world (because WPP handles so much media and advertising, their performance in the market tends be a leading indicator of the economy's performance). Here's what he said about the iPad: "[The iPad's] not regarded as being the thing that's going to save us, the panacea to the problems of converting to a digital world. It's going to be more difficult."

Nothing will save you.

That's not (totally) true. There are many things that can save your marketing business, but none of them will be related to some new piece of hardware or platform that millions of people will want to connect with. As always, it comes down to (and back to) the basics:

  • Vision. Do you see things that your competitors do not see? Do you have a way in which you feel your industry should be? What is the one thing you do that your peers cannot touch you on?
  • Strategy. Once you understand your business objectives and goals, what are the other dots that you need to connect to create a full picture? Don't worry about the tactics here, but define the overall strategy for your business.
  • Collaboration. Your team and the people you work with and collaborate with are critical to your survival. Jim Collins said it best: get the right people in the right seat on the bus. Everything else flows from there.
  • Creativity. None of this matters in Marketing unless you are working with some of the sharpest and most creative minds. Creativity wins both clients and attention.
  • Technology. I once heard Faris Yakob say that, "coders are the new creative." Whether it was his line or someone else's, I couldn't tell you, but it's spot on. You can't be in Marketing and not have the technological firepower to back it up. We have arrived at that moment in time when some of the best advertising agencies now look a whole lot more like a software start-up. Embrace technology and everything it can do.
  • Execution. If you're not getting things done, then what is the point? As the saying goes, "execution is everything."
  • Measurement. Welcome to the real-time world where you can mount a campaign and start analyzing your results instantly. If things aren't working you won't find out at the end of next quarter, because you can find out in a quarter of an hour. Embrace analytics and ensure that you're leveraging this data to pull out "actionable insights," as my good friend, Avinash Kaushik, likes to say.
  • Optimization. Knowing why something is (or isn't) working is one thing, doing something about it is a completely different story. As you can measure everything in real-time, so too can you optimize it. Nurture a testing and learning environment and you'll see a completely different type of organization develop.
  • Innovation. Most companies never innovate beyond their initial conception. Instead of creating the future (as they did when their business first got off the ground), they're now in the business of mitigating risk and minimizing mistakes. Here's another famous saying, "innovate or die." 
  • Learning. Never stop learning. Read everything. Read everything about your business, your industry and then keep on reading anything and everything of interest. Learning doesn't only come from consumption. Learning also comes from creating. Write, Blog, Podcast, Tweet, create YouTube videos... put your ideas out there as an act of critical thinking and be open to the comments (the good and the bad). It will make you a stronger and better player in this game.

See, I told you. The iPad won't save you.

By Mitch Joel