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Blog - November 23, 2016

Remember the Tortoise - A Letter to My Younger Self

Posted by Matthew Diamond in Marketing Magazine

Diamond m 0109 2 hr

Matthew Diamond, SVP, Mosaic Canada, wrote an opinion piece in the October edition of Marketing Magazine.

Dear Matthew,

Happy graduation day! As you walk down that stage, gown and cap in hand, you hear these final words from your favorite Prof .

“The Tortoise,”

As in the advice your favourite prof gave you. “It’s the Tortoise that wins the race, not the Hare.”

When you first heard those words, you thought, “What the hell is this old guy talking about? I’m young, eager, and ready to conquer the world, plus I can make it happen fast.”

Lemme lay out the next 20 years and show you how wrong you were.

With exuberance, you’ll score your first job at Kraft in brand management. And during week two, your director will tell you that you’ll be leading the launch of a new cereal - Golden Honey Shreddies. That exuberance will become panic, because you don’t really know how to launch a new cereal.

Luckily, your boss will pull you aside, giving you his support. “Hey kid, don’t sweat this,” he’ll say. “You work for Post (still owned by Kraft at that time), and there is a formula. Here are the decks for the past 50 brands we’ve launched. Take your pick and just plug in the new brand. Then brief any of the top agencies on our roster, and they’ll cut you a gorgeous :30 TV spot. Done.”

And as swiftly as a hare, it will all work out like your director said it would. You produce a great commercial, with all levels of management to surround you and support each decision.

That relief? Don’t get used to it.

The Tortoise.

The species that evolves to survive, something you won’t truly appreciate until you switch to the agency side. Once there, you’ll be disappointed to see the CPG client landscape get turned completely upside down. The days of having a team of senior and associate brand managers will cease to exist.

You’ll sit across brand managers (who will watch 42% of their traditional roles disappear in Canada over five years) wanting to tell their younger selves about the tortoise.

You’ll want to prepare marketers for data scientists, futurists and content experts all sitting around a table mapping out how to spend dollars. In fact, marketers don’t really exist now. They’re more like those portfolio managers, each having a roster of client brands that they’re constantly balancing the mix for in order to maximize shareholder returns with insights, data and tools that didn’t exist in your day.

The days of having budgets set, traditional roles defined and Post’s stack of decks? Gone.

But remember… the Tortoise.

The world will evolve, but so will you. The dirty P-word, “Promotion,” will turn into the flavor du jour, “shopper marketing” (little do you know that learning this discipline will help you build your own agency). You’ll read telling articles about “staffing content AORs for the future” and witness a little thing called Facebook achieve juggernaut success. Ideas will come from anywhere and everywhere. Tactics we be a dime a dozen.

But whenever you think you can rest on your laurels, remember…

The Tortoise. Steady and evolving.

Your next 20 years of client and agency experience will give you the knowledge to take you into the decades ahead.

Agency models that are turned upside down, involve no real estate, revolve around data-based idea currency, and feature smart content as the order of the day; models that take the best of left brain thinking and perfectly combine it with off-the-chart sophistication in compelling design. Client service professionals meshed with production, creative and copywriters. Business and personal relationships that are intertwined and as one. Clients without proper budgets, building from the ground up. And co-investment of brands between marketers and agencies.

It will be overwhelming, but trust me, this weird combination can’t be faked, and only a few can combine it all into a truly successful entity.

The Tortoise.

Our prof really nailed it. Only those with steady determination for adapting and embracing changes will be victorious.

Sincerely, Matthew (a.k.a. the Tortoise)


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