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Let me introduce you a dream team. Van Gogh, Einstein, Jack Ma, and Karl Marx. They are the great minds who can inspire us for marketing today. Van Gogh sees the world in different dimension, elevates the observation of the surroundings to make artistic impression. Every creative marketer needs this capability to give marketing a statement. We also want the mind of Einstein who can validate the new idea with equation and algorithm. With Jack Ma, we want to have the opportunist instinct who can monetize what is missing from the mass interest. Then Karl Marx comes along to disrupt with a new distribution model. Sounds invincible with a team like this! However…

I have a story of Van Gogh, Einstein, Jack Ma, and Karl Marx to tell you. Click To Tweet

This is how chaos happens?

Yes, I know I am teasing with an impossible scenario when all the great minds can work together for marketing. Even as an analogy it is very likely to result a chaotic outcome rather than a happy ending. In reality, Van Gogh will be the poor designer who might end up walking out of his job. Because unlike data which can be empirical and predictable, an alternate idea is more often appreciated as a retrospective. Then there is the moment when Einstein walks in to join the discussion, bluffing with the probability and possibility with analytical forecast that will hold everyone back. Does this sound similar to you?

The great-mind meeting continues with Jack Ma who suddenly finds something that intrigues him. The voice of an opportunist is so motivating like a great speech that overcomes every mental obstacle and defies science. The opportunist becomes a good complement to Van Gogh. The rhetoric then continues, pitching for today’s market scenario, shouting that we are fighting for attention. Only the new and unique idea will make impression, that’s why we must take risk for profitability! Cool cool cool, confidence regained and we are good to try new idea. It’s also the time for Karl Marx to bring in the disruption. Let’s do it for free!

… There is a slight moment of awkward silence. How does it work if a service will be offered for free? The freemium model requires advanced tiering to structure the service between free and premium. It requires a clear service detail with the distinct product function and benefit for the customers. And then the base service which will be offered for free cannot jeopardize the potential of the paid premium service. The beauty of freemium is to leverage the most powerful marketing tool – FREE – to build up the user base. And then the user base recruited by the free service will essentially be the supply of the business pipeline for the premium service. But the fact is that not everything can be a freemium. The people service cannot be the freemium such as event business, logistics and production, etc., Any deliverable involved with labor is unlikely to be offered as a freemium.

Why we need a choreographer when everyone can dance?

Let’s take a step back. What could we learn from all these great minds for marketing? Is it the creativity to pursue alternative idea, the scientific process to dissect the market opportunity, the insight to improve profitability, or the courage to disrupt the market? Each of them by itself is invincible, but to combine all of them will be a disaster. One thing is missing in the process. It is called “Alignment.”

Alignment is like a choreographer who syncs various marketing components for a smooth movement and sequence. In my experience, at least 50% of the failure in marketing are caused by the misalignment such as the budget doesn’t align with the marketing plan, the creative doesn’t align with the brand, the capability doesn’t align with the technology, the economics doesn’t align with the market, etc, etc.

Alignment also affects transformation and transformation is related to the marketing innovation. Many organizations talk transformation but we hardly see a successful one. Over 50% of the businesses still see marketing as a sales support function, which is certainly a mistake. Alignment creates harmonious state of marketing. The first step towards a good alignment is an effective internal marketing structure. I suggest a six functional pillars to build this marketing structure,

  1. Configure – to define specification.
  2. Administer – to define metrics and supervise implementation.
  3. Analyze – to tie metrics into goal and discover insight.
  4. Technical – to integrate technology for innovation.
  5. Socialize – to engage supporters and promote accountability.
  6. Educate – to improve capability.

These pillars form a foundation to support a fluid marketing transformation from people to knowledge to process to outcome, not just adopting a technology.

Back to our learning from the great minds. Even though you have all the great minds in your marketing team but couldn’t align every thought and action together, then after going through debate and drama, the outcome will simply be the Boss (who in my déjà vu is Paul Mccartney by the way) will decide to fall back to the comfort zone and do what everyone does the best… on Yesterday.