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Idea: Why Conventional Wisdom Is the Enemy of Marketing Innovation

By Rex Hammock

By the time innovative, creative and insightful marketing trends become conventional marketing wisdom, they are no longer innovative, creative or insightful. 

Conventional wisdom is where innovation goes to become institutionalized, codified and organized around an ecosystem of conferences, acronyms and buzzwords. Conventional wisdom is where innovation goes to receive venture funding, branding and a corps of true believers who are willing to master its language, metrics and software platforms.

Soon, conventional wisdom becomes a fortress of fear, protecting its backers and believers from the new innovators at the gate.

In the 1970s, this phenomenon of protecting conventional wisdom with “fear, uncertainty and doubt” (yes, there was an acronym: FUD) was captured in a business axiom of the day: “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM equipment.” Today’s conventional wisdom defenders are those who are trying hardest to get you to fill in their name at the end of today’s version of, “Nobody ever got fired for buying _________.”

Bottom Line for marketers: There’s a “rest of the story” regarding IBM. The company went through a downturn in the 1990s after discovering that innovation is an insurgency that refuses to go away. IBM now sells more services than equipment. Your job isn’t to buy into conventional wisdom or buy anything at all. Your job is to focus on knowing your customer’s challenges, passions and opportunities—and to develop innovative ways to help them stay ahead of the conventional wisdom.

(Photo: Thinkstock)