The Professional Influence Audit

Josh GordonDo not be scared by the word audit. Sometimes audits, in the right context of course, are a good thing because they freshen thinking and renew perspective. It makes sense to take a step back from the daily grind and constant push of a fast-paced career in marketing to review what content, and which people, influence you in your marketing-related decision making. I like to take time for this healthy exercise two or three times a year to ensure that I am getting a good mixture of experience and cutting edge thinking to influence my ideas. Both types of influence are important. Experience is great for context and perspective, but understanding new, advanced ideas is also critical to becoming a better marketer.

Marketers with decades of experience are extremely valuable. In fact, these types of marketers are usually brilliant, understand the consumer very well, and often carry a great deal of influence. They are a necessary influence to any type of marketer at any age or stage in a career. But sometimes these types of marketers can be particularly susceptible to stagnant thinking and outdated ideation. The danger to improving marketing is self-evident. A great deal of influence, but outdated thinking, is a danger to advancing marketing and critical business thinking. A combination of traditional and new influences is absolutely crucial to success. In short, a professional influence audit makes sense for everyone.

The fresh perspective and a new way of thinking is an important element of the influence equation, too, because it helps soften the transition to a new marketing world where accountability and measurement are prominent – and mandatory. Traditional marketers with a great deal of experience in traditional communications channels and mass marketing can, at times, find the idea of direct and immediate accountability a bit frightening. And, who can blame them? But, the mindset of the market has changed and is still changing. Budgets are shrinking while performance demands are expanding. A fresh perspective is vital to ease the transition.

Part of my recent influence audit added two more important perspectives to my learning arsenal. The first is former USA Today technology columnist turned author Kevin Maney, whose recent book, Trade-Off, teaches the value of seeing products through the prism of a trade-off between convenience and fidelity. The cross-section of products Maney gives perspective on spans every type of marketing. Another recent influence is David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR. He brings together myriad new ways of approaching traditional challenges, and methods for tackling the ever-changing environment of online content distribution and consumption. For me, this is part of the fresh perspective I need to push my limits.

Who influences your marketing thinking? Do you have a combination of positive influences from both ends of the career continuum? Do you perform a professional influence audit?

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