The Mindful Marketer: A book review by Bob Morris

Mindful MarketerThe Mindful Marketer: How to Stay Present and Profitable in a Data-Driven World
Lisa Nirell
Palgrave Macmillan/A Division of St. Martin’s Press (2015)

How to create or increase demand by being totally engaged in a data-driven process of mindful service

Since the markets in ancient Athens and then Rome, there has been ferocious competition between and among merchants to attract and retain customers by creating or increasing demand for whatever is offered. I cannot recall a prior time when the competition was greater than it is today. Marketing has become both an art and a science.

Two forces are of special interest to me: customer-centrism that Barbara Bund introduced in The Outside-In Corporation: How to Build a Customer-Centric Organization for Breakthrough Results (2005) and data-driven marketing initiatives based on analytics that have the greatest appeal to the given demographic segment. (To learn much more about this, I suggest you check out two books by Tom Davenport: Analytics at Work: Smarter Decisions, Better Results, co-authored with Jeanne G. Harris, and Big Data at Work: Dispelling the Myths, Uncovering the Opportunities.) We have only begun to understand and appreciate the nature and extent of impact that these and other forces will have. They will indeed pose unique and formidable leadership challenges to marketers.

I agree with Lisa Nirrell: “In spite of the need for senior marketing leaders to become more tech savvy, data-driven, and strategic, many still feel as if they are playing second string in customer circles and the C-suite.” Many feel that way because that really is how they are viewed. I especially agree with her as she observes, “We need empowered, energized CMOs [Chief Marketing Officers] to tap into their innate talents and teach stakeholders the power of building customer-centric communities…Every one of us who fulfills a marketing leadership role needs to find our Inner Marketing Guru (IMG).”

Nirrell wrote this book primarily for those who are or aspire to become a marketing leader, if not a CMO. She correctly realizes that C-level executives are under tremendous pressure to determine the ROI of all organizational initiatives, including marketing. She explains how to make and then leverage that determination. (See her specific recommendations on Pages 140-143.) Much of the material in this book will also be valuable to CEOs, many (most?) of whom do not understand, much less appreciate, what the new marketing opportunities are, and, how best to take full advantage of them.

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Nirell’s coverage in the first 11 chapters:

o Trends and predators to monitor (Pages 3-10)
o Attention-grabbing strategies (14-15)
o Five indicators that leaders are headed to a Digital Intrusion Movement (20-23)
o Real-world examples of marketing initiatives that are inspiring (23-24)
o Three major obstacles marketing initiatives (28-30)
o Big data initiatives that can help improve customer experience (32-33)
o “How Vision Critical Helped NASCAR Ignite a Bigger Fan Footprint” (34)
o Some inherent limitations of big data-driven marketing initiatives (38-39)
o Four reasons for reducing multitasking from a logical perspective (53-54)
o Additional adjustments to reduce multitasking (56-57)
o How Buddhist precepts can be applied to a marketing mission (63-65)
o Three ideas to improve decision-making (66-67)
o Several body-centered awareness exercises to achieve mindfulness (70-73)
o Approaches to creating systems to mitigate remote field forces (92-93)
o Strategies to model “lights-on” behavior with other marketers (93-94)

I agree with Nirell that the future of marketing includes several trends that could have a profound impact. She identifies six (Pages 195-202):

1. Actionable data (i.e. the right data), not big data, will win.
2. The emergence of the “community economy”
3. It’s no longer about you.
4. Agile goes viral.
5. Mind-sets get a front row seat on the marketing strategy stage.
6. Unplugged moments matter.

Lisa Nirrell then adds, “I remain nonattached to these 6 predictions. I really don’t care how many people reading these insights agree with me. I simply encourage you to pursue the ones that make sense and discard the ones that do not. Somewhere within these insights lies your gold statue, your Inner Marketing Guru.”

My own opinion is that the best decisions are based on the best information available, of course, but also in terms of what is most appropriate to the current realities and the given strategic objectives to be achieved. Here’s a key question: “Insofar as creating or increasing demand for what we offer is concerned, what works, what doesn’t, and – especially — WHY?” If this book doesn’t help to answer that question for your organization, there are other sources. For individuals as well as organizations, it is impossible to control everything that happens but it is possible control how one responds, hence the importance of preparation.

This is probably what Sun Tzu had in mind when suggesting in The Art of War that every battle is won or lost before it is fought. The same is now true of most marketing initiatives.

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