The Best EVERYONE Can Do

No idea is so precious that it can’t be shared.

Careful. We’re getting into anti-advertising territory, here. We are an industry that competes against each other for clients, talent, and exposure. So we tend to keep things as close to our chest as possible, revealing only that which will improve our ability to land more clients, talent or exposure while minimizing the possibility that someone will steal our clients, talent or exposure.

This mentality stops advancement. We don’t learn from each other, which means we don’t learn from real-world mistakes. Which means we’re no longer learning at all.

Advertising and marketing is cut throat, to be sure. There’s certainly a glut of people who do this thing we do, and some do it better than others. We’re fighting for the same limited supply of clients. We’re beating each other up in order to push ourselves further.

Yet, that notion is changing. Because we live in South Dakota, we have a hand up that others don’t: a combination of cost and work ethic and general sensibility that can’t easily be found in major markets. We hold this advantage together. And all we can do is build upon it to bring more people into the middle of the States.

Here’s how it’s done: Collaboration and Intentional Learning

The future of advertising has nothing to do with clients – it will happen from within, through a free-exchange of ideas and improvements, each of us building upon the successes of the others, working with each other to find solutions instead of against each other.

Except, when you look at it that way, it has everything to do with clients, because clients are dictating this change. “The best we can do,” is no longer good enough – we owe it to the people who pay us to exceed that and tap into our communities, our shared knowledge and our body of talent to do “the best everyone can do.”

The wonderful Nicole Jones, content strategist at Facebook, wrote in her essay “Being Intentional” about this very thing, saying:

It’s our responsibility to teach our clients, peers, and coworkers. We’re in this together. We’re a community, we’re growing, and our work is fluid.

We have to be okay with sharing what we know. Everyone gets credit for showing their work. There’s no reason to protect how we do things. Every client is different; every project presents new information to learn from.

There’s a new generation of advertisers, marketers, designers, writers, and web professionals who have been raised on the notion of open communication and orbital information, where everything can be found in the open. Where collaboration is more than just “filling holes in the talent pool.” Where collaboration is the most logical way to solving a problem.
Collaboration requires cohesion. It requires suppression of ego. It requires being unafraid to tell your story, admit your mistakes and help the industry move forward. Collaboration isn’t easy. But it’s becoming more and more necessary.

Let’s start sharing.

NOTE: This article originally appeared in the South Dakota Advertising Federation ADLib, a quarterly publication on marketing.

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