Curiosity the Cure

November 14, 2018

The desire to learn more is an elixir to many many ills. Its a powerful driver that has created some of the hardest questions to answer and given some of the most inspiring answers. It is the diametric opposite of ignorance (while, in a Hegelian sense, is actually the same).

Curiosity in marketing and advertising is essential. We don’t know enough about influence, about persuasion, about how attitudes are formed for our industry to stop being curious. Least of all strategists and planners. As professional problem solvers it is our duty to be curious, to seek new answers, new ways of seeing. This is why Mark Pollard tells us to read, but not just marketing books, everything.

Last week I attended the incredible MSIX conference. The conference is a kind of portal for practicing marketers and advertisers to meet with and discuss the more academic and deliberate side of studying the effects of marketing. It included amazing talks from Prof. Rachel Kennedy who spoke on the need for intelligent frameworks that study effectiveness in pre-testing. Prof. Karen Nelson-Field  discussed the value of attention as a key metric for understanding the success of communications, and how when we look at ads through the lens of attention, logos become more and more important. One of my favourite discussions came from Arron Child who argued for the use of Neuroscience principles when developing communications, the importance of priming an audience to receive messages and the ability for brand personification to communicate brand attributes in easy to read behaviours.

The conference challenged me and engaged me in thoughts I had never previously entertained. It inspired me to read new material and to apply new fields of thinking into the way I solve problems in my day to day work. It’s started me into a journey to become a better strategist and a better marketer.

But the day left me with one rather pressing question. Where were the planners? Looking across the room and looking at the list of participants on the Linkedin Group after the event, I saw clients, content producers, independent agency owners. In a sold out group of over a hundred people, I felt that agencies and particularly strategists and planners were under represented.

Why has the skill set that requires the most curiosity lost its desire to learn? Are we too busy, too expensive to send to a conference? Let me know what you think in the comments.

In a time when our industry is under intense scrutiny for our effectiveness, curiosity and the desire to learn, having a scientific approach might be the only panacea.

Photo by Annie Spratt

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