Holding The Tensions in Marketing

F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said “The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function”. At Elliance, we have made it a habit of not settling for easy answers. Each one of us holds the torch of a different point of view: brand, user experience, simplicity of interactive, client prosperity, story, search, social, mobile and more. Miraculously, we have created a culture where we are able to deliver brilliance while holding the tension between these disciplines.

Over the years we have held the tension between various polar opposite ideas. Here are some of the forces we have struck a wonderful balance with:

1. Profit and Principle. When serving colleges and universities, we run into this every day. Both are needed for institutional health.

2. Data and intuition. Now that we are all swimming in big data, the pendulum has moved from intuition to data. In our experience, data supports intuitions with the right set of assumptions. Intuition is worth preserving in the age of data.

3. Ancient and the modern. We have gradually found a voice that bridges tradition and modernity. Because most of humanity is struggling to balance the two, our point of view serves our clients and their customers well.

4. Fear and inspiration. Although we are definitely biased towards inspiration, we have come to realize that a little sprinkling of fear here and there can be an effective motivator.

5. Stories and facts. Facts tell, stories sell. Enough said.

6. Digital game and ground game. It’s hard to achieve success with digital marketing alone without an effective ground game being delivered by boots on the ground. Military strategists know it. Political campaigns live it. Marketing is not that different.

7. Inbound and paid marketing. Inbound builds a foundation of trust while paid marketing acts as boosters, surges and necessary short-term stimuli.

8. Efficiency and effectiveness. Perhaps humanity lived too long in the comfort of effectiveness, but the pendulum has swung to the other extreme in just one hundred years. Clearly we need both, but the extremes of efficiency is a high price to pay in marketing, as in other aspects of life such as healthcare and education.

9. Right-fit and more. Business schools have always preached the siren songs of more, with little consideration for the associated cost. For Elliance, more of right-fit is the holy grail. Pipes, not funnels are better metaphors for marketers.

Our advice. Seek balance. Each polarity is good alone, but the two combined are better together. Nature abhors monopoles. Marketing should too.