The Courage (or not) of the Enterprise Marketer

tl;dr: An enterprise marketer is either willing to do an experiment and risk failure or wants to wait until everyone else has figured out. You can’t have both. It just depends on his/her career objectives.

I started my professional career in Tokyo in 1997.

It was the beginning of the “dot-com” boom. I had dropped out of my graduate program to join a small marketing agency called Fact Communications.

Fact focused on using a new thing called “the Internet” to help large companies achieve marketing objectives.

Today, the things that we did then are so commonplace that they are givens, but at the time, they were revolutionary.

We built a virtual experience for Heineken to promote a sweepstake that helped users imagine themselves going on a trip (airport, plane, landing in another country).

We built a site for a company called McVities (a UK snack manufacturer) that used JavaScript to have people play games with cookies. It won the “Webby Award.”

And I conceived of and executed what may have been the very first email marketing campaign in Japanese history. It was a mail merge that took 445 email addresses (I still remember the number) from Excel, into a Word template, and then sent it out via Outlook Express.

Looking back over the last 20 years of using new technologies to achieve marketing objectives, I’ve come to appreciate the people on the inside at large brands and agencies who take the chance on unproven approaches.

First, Recognize It’s Possible

I bring all of this up because the Never Stop Marketing enterprise team is engaging more and more with Fortune 1000 brands and leading agencies.

There is growing awareness and interest in exploring how to use this new thing called “blockchain” to achieve marketing objectives.

The interest in using “blockchain” (which refers broadly to a wide set of possibilities such as protocols, tokens, smart contracts, and more) is increasing along with the number of companies listed on the Blockchain MarTech Landscape.

Marketers and agencies to have objectives around awareness, perception, and growth. That hasn’t changed and won’t change. What they want are ways to do it better, faster, and cheaper.

That is why NSM offers and delivers educational services such as in-person Immersion Days and online Readiness Courses to help large brands and agencies envision the possibilities of using blockchain-based technologies to drive results.

They can use Kickback to reduce event-drop off rates, use Props to drive deeper engagement, support content creators with Hyperspace or Steemit, or use Lucidity to reduce advertising costs and fraud. There are 100s of others.

That’s the easy part, recognizing that the possibility exists for a different way.

The hard part is what happens after someone understands the possibilities.

Best Practices or Innovation?

To over-simplify tremendously, there are two types of marketers and agency execs.

Those who recognize that possibility entails the risk of failure and those who want “best practices.”

Asking for “best practices” now when it comes to blockchain marketing is, well, ridiculous. There are none. The industry is too nascent.

This is probably 80% of the audience out there. They need a CYA before trying something new.

The other 20% (and that’s who we really focus on serving) are able to see that blockchain-based marketing possibilities follow in the long line of previous waves of emerging technology.

In 1997, Fact went to brands and said: “we may be able to use this thing called the Web/email to help you.”

In 2008, NSM went to brands and said, “we may be able to this thing called Facebook to help you.”

Soon thereafter, with our help, YesTo executed a social sharing campaign that had 250 members of their fan club give the company the right to publish status updates on their behalf.

At the time, revolutionary. Today, every company asks for permission to publish to your timeline.

I saw this at Sprinklr.

One of the most influential brands on social media is Nike.

Not just because they are Nike, but because they jumped into Facebook and Twitter really early. By the time the mainstream market arrived, they had figured out the difference between “doing social” and “being social.”

And it’s going to happen again in this arena as well.

Some of the brands will join the Blockchain MarTech Accelerator Program and begin to engage early.

Others will wait. That’s fine. We’ll help the courageous innovators figure it out sooner.

It Won’t Be Blockchain Marketing For Long

At some point in the future, using the term “Blockchain Marketing” will sound as stupid and absurd as using the term “Internet Marketing.”

NSM will have to evolve our messaging accordingly, but the reason why it will be irrelevant will be the same.

It’s going to be obvious that using blockchain/tokens, etc. can deliver measurable marketing results.

At that point, we’ll have “best practices” ready for the people who think that’s the path to long-term job security.

Meanwhile, the blockchain marketing innovators of today will be the CMOs and Managing Directors of tomorrow.


The Courage (or not) of the Enterprise Marketer was originally published in Data Driven Investor on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.