Can anyone actually become a marketing master?
An interesting question, certainly. We think that the answer could be just as thought provoking.
So, allow us to take you down yet another marketing theory rabbit hole.
What's 10,000 hours? When we were first getting into the marketing scene, we had that same question. That number came up in a few of our meetings (we dealt a lot with startup entrepreneurs and techno "geeks") and, with us being young and unabashed, we asked what in the world they were talking about.
The 10,000-hour rule, pioneered by Malcolm Gladwell (and others, mind you) states that it takes approximately 10,000 hours of deliberate (we like to use the word "intentional") practice in order to attain mastery in your particular field.
If we applied the rule to AdLand, then, if you spent 10,000 hours deliberately practicing getting better at marketing and advertising, you would then be able to call yourself a master.
Case closed. Right?
Obviously not. Naturally, there was a lot of pushback to the 10,000 hour rule, and rightfully so. Though the rule makes sense, there must be exceptions. Business Insider ran an article in 2014 that helped explain one of those glaring exceptions.
If the environment in which we are operating never changes — meaning that the rules, the type of players, and the way the situation goes from beginning to end is stable — then yes, the rule could be incredibly influential. But if the environment changes rapidly, then the people involved could never actually gain mastery; once the environment changes, the hours would have to start over.
With that being said, we will repeat our opening question: Could any marketing professional reach mastery?
If we look at all the facets involved with marketing and advertising, it would be incredibly difficult to reach the affirmative. Target audiences change, economic conditions change, writing styles change, media consumption habits change, and brand leaders change. The probability of there being a "marketing master" under Gladwell's rule with the exception is outrageously low.
Yet AdLand has people who are successful everywhere they go. Are they masters? Are they close to mastery? Or is there something else that they are really good at?
The last question draws our interest. What is it about the thought leaders and big hitters in our industry that seems to reel them in on what their consumer or what their audience really wants? Is it practice? Is it intuition? Perhaps a combination? If it is a combination, is there a preferred mix?
All intricate questions. We're not sure there's a right answer. Honestly, we think there is probably a better question out there that can really cut to the chase.
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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