My 5 New Year’s Marketing Resolutions


Originally published in INC. Magazine on December 10, 2013

Getting a jump on the New Year, marketing exec Curt Hanke shares his resolutions for the new year. With goals such as more creativity and more honesty, you may just want to put some of his resolutions on your list as well.

The turkey’s been carved. FY14 budgets are put to bed. It’s time to ready ourselves for another year in the world of marketing.

As such, before we dispense with the gift buying, glass raising, and ball dropping, this is always a good time for a little reflection — of lessons learned, perspectives earned, and resolutions to make the coming year our best one yet. Here are five of mine.

More rabbit holes. By which I mean to say, more time to think and more time to explore. Rich insights require time and data. Brilliant strategies need percolation and nurturing. While Lewis and Clark failed in their pursuit of discovering an all-water route to the Pacific, they never would have acquired such vast scientific and geographic knowledge without bravely hitting the open road and truly exploring “what if.”

Resolution #1: More time to go down more paths and more investment in not just feasibilities, but possibilities.

More walkabouts. In twenty years as a marketer, I have never left the office for a day in the field — be the research formal or informal, the mission specific or general — and not come back with a minty fresh perspective. For people in the business of people, far too much of our daily scenery is comprised of conference room walls and “Fasten Seat Belt While Seated” chair-back signs.

Resolution #2: More walkabouts. More time strolling the streets, listening and observing, and collecting insights in the university of humanity.

More offense. Whether you’re a client, an agency partner, or a professional services provider of virtually any shape or size, you must provide proactive thinking. Yes, this falls under the category of “urgent that is always trumped by the important” — but to deliver our highest and best value, we need to challenge and provoke, not just answer and deliver. (Plus, let’s face it — it’s a heck of a lot more fun to play offense than defense.)

Resolution #3: Renew our commitment to proactive thinking throughout every discipline within our organization. And invest more time in asking bigger questions within and outside of our four walls.

More perspectives. How do we understand what’s coming around the corner when the corner keeps moving? Certainly, there has never been a more important time to be a student of business and marketing. Furthermore, in pursuit of richer context, deeper understanding, and more original inspiration, I would argue that perspectives beyond our specific swim lanes can provide and inspire equal if not greater value — from how we run our businesses and manage people to the manner in which we develop frameworks and ultimately build brands.

Resolution #4: Redouble our studies of adjacent and analogous fields — from behavioral economics and social psychology to military history and comparative literature (and more). Just as there are surprisingly relevant learnings between disparate clients and industries, so, too, can we obtain deep, rich insights in far-flung places.

More failure. Yes, failure. As in, that which John Keats deliciously described as “the highway to success.” Great marketers are not afraid to fail; it’s that simple. Failure edifies and informs, failure blazes new trails, and failure affirms past directions and future planning efforts alike.

Resolution #5: More investment in exploration — the planting of new fields in pursuit of fertile ground. Practically speaking, this means more frank discussions, strong partnerships, bold thinking, and thoughtful bets.

In the words of Bing Crosby, “Let’s watch the old year die, with a fond goodbye, and our hopes as high as a kite.” There’s never been a more fun and yet more scary time to be in the world of marketing; saddle up, ladies and gentlemen. And welcome back to the show that never ends. Happy holidays.