Marketing Mistake #1: Failing to Lead

Marketers who wait to be given their marching orders and to have all the facts in hand before putting a foot forward, will never achieve greatness. But many business managers are asking for greatness from their marketing investment. Something revolutionary. Category re-defining. Life-changing. Why should we, as marketers, give them anything less? The following are inspirations drawn from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple in Oak Park, as discussed by the leading marketing minds of MENG, in May 2011. Warning: this isn’t the easy road.

Make no small plans (thank you, Daniel Burnham)

Go deep with your network

Everyone must sell their ideas in, and it helps to be connected. If you have an internal champion, fantastic. If you have allies throughout, so much the better. Wright was deeply tied to Unity. His father was minister, his mother on the board, and congregants were customers of his home designs.

Own your ideas with courage and conviction

Collaboration is good. But too much flexibilty dissolves the power of the original inspiration. If the idea is truly innovative, radical and market-changing, there will be no proof or evidence of past success. Force of will is the midwife of the birthed innovation (brilliance is the father and effort, the mother...or you could swith those two around; it’s not technically proven)

Show followers what’s in it for them

No one does it alone, and geatness is diminished by mediocre execution. The job of the leader is to inspire passionate followers, to go where they wouldn’t or couldn’t go on their own...for the opporunity to be a small part of greatness.

Fight the good fight: overcome obstacles

The world resists newness. Delivering innovation is a labor, sometimes long and tiring.

Deliver the goods

Passion alone does not an innovation (or leader) make. You’ve got to work damned hard to be that good.

Obsess about details

Delivering the goods starts right here. Everything Matters (thank you, Northwestern Memorial Hospital)

Steal ideas (and share the credit)

As with followers, brilliant leaders don’t do everything themselves. To get followers to keep following, share the glory. At least a little.

Envision things that surprise and delight...beyond the capacity for markets to anticipate 

If you ask for what’s wanted, expect to hear what’s already known and understood. If you stop there, without interpretation, without envisioning more, without risking something…you’re really just filling orders. Beware the research and what the market says it wants.

Be deeply relevant

When the leader delivers innovation that resonates with the soul, it lives enduringly. As does Unity’s chappel, where the compression and release, the light and dark, the interplay of inside and outside commands community, intimacy and interaction among the minister and congregation, allowing all the radical means to coalesce into a justified finale.

Ask forgiveness

With Unity, Wright went over budget 2X. Sometimes greatness takes more than origially proposed. Don’t get me wrong—we promise our clients to come in on time, on budget. Sometimes greatness beckons. Given our contract, we’ll propose a scope change.