The Secret to Long-Term Fulfillment and Success in Marketing

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Marketers are always looking ahead for that next new tool or strategy. Sometimes we need to look back.

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Not many of us spent our childhood dreaming of a career in marketing. I thought it would be cool to be a forest ranger, a pro athlete, or maybe the frontman in a best-selling band. But an advertising man? Nothing very noble or noteworthy about that guy.

But here I sit, more than a quarter century into my marketing career. And truth is, I am exceedingly grateful for the people and the work before me each day. No regrets. (Except maybe combat pilot. That would’ve been really cool.)

Whatever the profession, it is my firm belief that the path to purpose, meaning and success at work is paved with wisdom. Creativity, planning, insight, execution — all are essential ingredients to exceptional marketing. But without wisdom we can get seriously off track.

I know, wisdom is an old-fashioned word. I don’t ever recall it being mentioned in a marketing blog or Ad Age article. But I submit that all the big data-driven, programmatic, lead nurturing in the world will come up empty without a heavy dose of wisdom.

At its essence, wisdom is the possession and application of knowledge, insight and judgement. Looking at our industry it is not hard to see the space between knowledge and sound decision-making. Have you seen an ad lately for one of the high-fashion fragrance companies? I think we can do better.

Here are some value propositions for wisdom:

  • Wisdom protects us from hasty decisions that we’ll later regret, yet allows us to quickly recognize the most prudent courses of action.
  • Wisdom guides us toward behaviors that provide sustainable value, and away from short-term gains that will quickly disappear.
  • Wisdom helps us invest our time and resources for maximum gain, while avoiding the temptation to take shortcuts that lead to dead ends.
  • Wisdom keeps our minds and work grounded in principles and purpose so we don’t abandon what is most important to serve the urgent.

So where do we find wisdom, and how do we get it? There is an ancient book of wisdom that I love called Proverbs. It is a collection of sayings, mostly by the wisest person who ever lived, a venerable Near East king named Solomon. In Proverbs 2:10-11 King Solomon wrote,

“For wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; discretion will watch over you, and understanding will guard you.”

Wisdom has application for everyone in every time and situation. We all need more of it. And businesses can certainly benefit by applying wise principles to challenging markets, uncertain economic conditions, and the interpersonal relationships by which work gets done. So stay tuned for more as we look back toward ancient wisdom in order to move our businesses forward today.

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