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September 11, 2015
AdLand and Uncertainty
 
We are in the business of selling the idea. AdLand survives by getting brands to agree that our ideas will work for their brands.

No doubt, then, that uncertainty is a monster we try to run from. At least in many cases.

We are all well aware that uncertainty is there, and to be entirely sure that your concept, campaign, or marketing initiative is foolproof is foolish. We must consistently operate under the notion that our ideas might succumb to uncertainty.

And our ideas fail.

As uptight as Corporate America is on failing, for the sake of the industry, we cannot be paralyzed by the risk of failure. We cannot be moved to be uncreative based on the cloud of uncertainty that may circle around our environment.

Like AdLand, the research industry is facing some turbulent times. A group of researchers went out to test some recently published studies to see if they could recreate the results, and it turned out that they could only reproduce results from 30% of all the studies they looked at. In an area where the reproduction of results turns theories into facts, this result was unnerving.

Researchers are faced with multiple questions: Can the original result be trusted? What variables between the tests could have been different? Could there be multiple answers? 

As marketing professionals, and especially those who fall in the marketing strategist category, it would do us well to approach our campaign ideas and market research in the same way as these researchers, particularly when we cannot derive the results we intended. 

The point is, neither the research industry nor AdLand should be worried about uncertainty. Uncertainty will be there whether we like it or not, because we deal with people. If people were robots, then messaging would turn into programming, and we would know how to properly program a robot to act the way we'd like it to act.

But the power of free will turns people into irrational decision-makers. The best decision is the decision the consumer thinks is the best. Facts and certainty are subjective.

It's like one of our favorite quotes from a university speaker we saw: "Welcome to the exhilarating uncertainty of now." AdLand, as we convince the C-Suite to stop worrying so much about the bottom line, and focus of satisfying customers, we can win this battle and live comfortably with uncertainty.

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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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