I just wrapped up my first day at the 2012 Canadian Marketing Association Summit in Toronto, and let me tell you, it was refreshing! The theme this year, “Connections: Listen, Engage, Measure” is a change of pace from the marketing conferences that are always touting the Next Big Thing.
Our obsession with the Next Big Thing isn’t surprising though. We live in a revolutionary time; where the shiny object constantly changes, the consumer ecosystem looks like a Tokyo subway map, and marketers are required to be both economists and prophets. In this rapidly changing environment, it’s no wonder we sometimes lose sight of the real goal of marketing: creating meaningful connections.
Throughout the day, that message was loud and clear: As marketers, we need to refocus our priorities to ensure that imagination, creativity, and innovation are the norm, not the exception. We all know this can be a tall order since most of our days (and nights) are filled with shorter deadlines, tighter budgets and increased expectations; and in the pharma industry, stricter regulations and policies create additional challenges to get creative juices flowing. It’s normal to feel discouraged by what we can’t do and default to reiterations of past ideas.
But after today’s sessions and being able to reconnect with some old friends from other industries, I feel hopeful and have realized that innovation stems as much from constraints as it does from freedom. Here are two valuable insights I gained:
- Innovation is everywhere: Ideas don’t have to come from just the design and development teams or even from within your own industry. People have immense natural talent just waiting to be discovered and cultivated. At Google, they have a “Google Ideas” site where employees can submit their ideas for company or product improvements and everyone can rate the ideas on a scale from 0 to 5. Every employee has a say and all perspectives are considered. The process has launched successful products such as Gmail and Google News to name a few.
- Celebrate failure: Don’t let the fear of failure stifle your creativity. There are benefits to being a first mover and potentially failing; namely gaining valuable learnings that can be applied to future endeavours. Angry Birds was actually the 52nd game that Rovio, the company behind the globally successful app, created. Imagine if they gave up after the first 51 failures – what would help tide you over on the subway ride to work?
So before you think it can’t be done or feel you don’t have a voice outside your own four wall, keynote speaker, Sir Ken Robinson reminded us all to that it’s essential to “Lead the culture of innovation”.