Curation and putting the art back into marketing


Let's face it, most marketers are judged on output. Pieces of content, number of leads, words written, etc. But is that necessarily the only metric? I'm not talking about quality over quantity, but what value do you place on an individual's ability to curate? Or make good decisions? 

In this networked economy, with access to content no longer a major source of friction and most of us being positively overwhelmed with content, surely we should now be putting more value on a marketing decision framework that achieves the same end goal as an "old school" production engine? 

I was provoked by this recent article that laid out "14 new rules workplace millennials need to master". Whilst a parallel thread, the topics were relevant to my curation vs creation thoughts. In particular the following points:

  • Your reputation is the single greatest asset you have.
  • You need to build a positive presence in new media. 
  • The one with the most connections wins.

As the article puts it "we have moved from an information economy to a social one. It’s less about what you know (you can find out just about anything within seconds with a simple Google search), and more about whether you can work with other people to solve problems." And that "...what you do is important. But what others think you do can be just as important if not more so."

I saw some of this recently when I was taking my CEO through creative ideas around some new company messaging. He was keen to understand whether I had come up with the ideas on my own, had worked with other employees or indeed worked with an external agency. Interestingly whilst he was interested in the creation process, he was more impressed that, regardless of whether they were my ideas or others, I had selected these to share with him. And that, to him, was more valuable.

Don't get me wrong, though. I'm not talking about passing things off as your own, without acknowledging sources. That's pure plagiarism. But the art of hand selecting ideas or content to share with your customers is a powerful concept. (in the case of my CEO, I had worked on some of the ideas with my agency, and told him so).

That CEO session went well. And I've had similar experiences throughout my career. And when asked about these moments and how I came up with great ideas, I can only come up with "it seemed right",  "i know what works and what doesn't work" or "well, that's what i do". (Disclosure: Don't worry, I make bad decisions too). 

Many brands have got this already and almost base their entire business model around curation. Take a fashion retailer like Mr Porter who compiles the latest trends, ready for purchase. Or coffee retailer Pact Coffee who sends you a different coffee every month.

And some brands have taken it even further. Seat14a, another fashion retailer, has just one "look" at a time available purchase. Like the one look, buy it. Don't like it, that's it. And film service Mubi that brings you movies one at a time, every day of the year.

What do all of these brands have in common? They use curation to build tremendous trust with customers and in the end show tremendous confidence. The confidence to go for it. To keep it simple. To take a risk. To have some fun.

And in the end confidence is one of the biggest values any brand can convey to its customers. And marketing that conveys that confidence will surely win out. 

So, whilst knowing your numbers and hiring more marketing scientists is important to upping the credibility of marketing teams, lets not forget marketers that make wonderful, intangible, unmeasurable decisions.  Dare I say it, let's celebrate the return of gut feel in marketing!