Are you a specialist or a generalist? Whether you’re a brand manager, creative director, media planner or whatever, I argue that you can be both. If you are, then we can call you a “Renaissance Practitioner”.
My definition of a Renaissance Practitioner: A 21st Century marketing executive with experience in, knowledge of, or appreciation for the complete range of channels available. This person specializes in some channels and becomes a true generalist by working with other specialists on a team. Renaissance practitioners always work outside their comfort zone.
This is an obvious riff on the historical term “Renaissance Man”, which applied to people of that era who gained mastery, accomplishment or experience in a range of a dozen or so areas such as sport, language, science and so forth. To become a Renaissance Man was not the result of merely dabbling in different areas, and the same principle holds true for a Renaissance Practitioner.
You don’t get a diploma when you achieve this status. In fact you never really “achieve” this status; it is a journey not a destination. Here are some practical things to keep in mind.
Study hard. It is important to maintain a solid understanding of the various disciplines that can build your business, from the technicalities of digital media to the personal connections of experiential to the mass reach potential of television. Take the time to read and talk to discipline experts.
Be curious. You never finish studying. Many disciplines are evolving. “Shopper Marketing” has had more than one definition over the past three years. On top of that, new disciplines arise: I joined Twitter in April 2007 and no one knew what it was back then.
Know your consumer. You’re knowledgeable. You’re up to date. So what? None of what you know about the latest channels means anything unless you know your own consumer. This applies to any marketing or advertising executive. I’ll write more about this topic.
Be open to the right answer. If you nail the above points, you may arrive at a surprising answer. For decades we have supplied one of our clients with TV, Radio and Print. Last year we took a fresh look at the business and realized we had overlooked a digital solution. Even though we have extensive digital capabilities, we called a sister agency that happens to have the digital AOR assignment for the same client.
This leads to a final thought: business partnership. Renaissance Practitioners can better serve their clients with the right solutions for their business.