The Evolution of Centerline. The Evolution of Marketing.
Apr 22, 2015
Until channels stop exponentially expanding… until tech stops advancing the way people engage with each other and companies… until businesses stop needing to communicate with their audience, marketing agencies will need to evolve. That thinking is integral to the ethos of Centerline:
We continuously evolve to solve the most complex business and marketing challenges.
This post is a bit personal, because it’s about the evolution of Centerline – the company that’s been my home for the past 11 years. It’s also universal, because it’s about the evolution of marketing over those same years… and I think it’s safe to say that if the agencies you’re working with (or your internal marketing team) hasn’t evolved, then you’re no longer relevant.
The changing shape of how people communicate—with each other, with brands, with salespeople, and so on—is something that I think about a lot. Nearly every aspect of communication is in a constant state of evolution.
Words that didn’t exist last year get added to the dictionary this year because they’ve become a part of common vernacular. From 2014 alone, selfie, hashtag, freegan and steampunk were among words added.
Channels that didn’t exist two months ago (and may not exist two months from now) are altering the paradigms of what “real-time” really means, and what “quality” truly equates to. See Meerkat, Periscope and Ello for just a few.
But what pushed me much farther along much faster in thinking about why evolution matters was this article by Robert Rose about whether content was a sustainable competitive advantage. Straight to the most salient point in regard to this post:
“Content itself will never be a sustainable competitive advantage or differentiator – because ALL competitive advantage/differentiation is transient. Instead, we need to change our perspective and understand that WE are the competitive advantage. Our ability as a marketing team (no matter the size) to be dynamic and fluid and to move in and out of “arenas” (as McGrath calls them) and create temporary advantages will be critical to success.”
While keeping up is difficult, it’s required if you don’t want to lose your edge… if you want to stay in business.
In the case of Centerline, we evolve through addition.
Since Centerline’s beginning, we’ve been experts at content. That may have started as “video content.” But that medium was still rooted in the idea of telling the right story to the right audience. We saw a need for better storytelling on screens at trade shows and other live events way back 19 years ago, and how high quality, valuable content in those settings could more effectively achieve business goals. So we went there.
Over the years, we were on the forefront of adapting to new mediums, channels and storytelling styles. We expanded into interactive content, and content via serious games. And we became more strategic with the timing, placement and promotion of content. We’ve pushed to social content, and we’ve made that an extension of live events among other cross-channel communications.
Frankly, not every service we tried to integrate stuck. Not every “advancement” worked out as such. Some things we thought were the future, didn’t last very long at all. And some of the ideas that felt uncomfortable (dare I say scary?) turned out to be the most formative.
But throughout all the evolution needed to stay on the leading edge of marketing—to make smarter, more valuable content with intent—we’ve always added knowledge and skills to adapt to new challenges rather than trade in one for another.
That point is an important one. The ability to comprehensively understand a client’s goals, offerings and audience… to plan the ideal organizational structure, marketing processes, channel mix and storylines… to create and activate the right content and enact the right engagements… and to be able to measure, monitor and immediately iterate on or augment those solutions requires a lot of diverse skills operating in perfect orchestration. Spreading that out amongst many different partners increases the opportunity for missteps. So we are holistic in nature – even as what “holistic” means continues to change by adding new services, new thinking and new processes.
Evolution is imperative. We’ve built our agency on the ability to do so constantly, and successfully. And we can help your organization evolve.
Watching TV as a kid, I used to run to the bathroom during the shows so I could make it back for the commercials. Those days launched me down a path that included layout and writing for the college paper; communications strategy for political campaigns; marketing strategy and graphic design for Gensler (a global design and architecture firm); and the implementation of new programming, animation and design techniques for Centerline. Today I specialize in content marketing strategy and building digital deliverables to execute those strategies. But it’s about more than just creating killer digital content. At Centerline, we help clients succeed in the digital marketplace using a three-pronged approach: strategic (message creation, brand strategy), tactical (design, development), and analytical (measurement and adaptation). This experience-tested approach allows me to build campaigns that are both well-designed and effective for clients like IBM, GE and National Instruments.