By: Tom Hutchison, Industry Strategist at Acxiom

Tom Hutchison, Industry Strategist at Acxiom

Ballet unites the artistry of music and movement. Their interplay fosters a unique, emotive connection between performers and audiences. The orchestra evokes a sense of place, atmosphere and emotional tone. Dancers display athleticism and grace and they are undeniably the stars. Yet, it’s the conductor of the orchestra who keeps everyone on track. They adjust the performance as it unfolds for both musicians and dancers. Conductors make the opportunistic adjustments that transform talent into virtuosity, just as a virtuoso planner turns a campaign into an experience. 

The score for a ballet isn’t a rote composition. It varies a little from performance to performance. A good conductor appreciates that the music complements the dance. The conductor leads the orchestra, of course, but they also watch the stage to make sure the music is in sync with the performers. The conductor gets a feel for the audience and they develop a sense about whether people are engaged. A conductor monitors a lot of simultaneous signals and varies the music to deliver the best performance possible. 

Planners – the marketing strategists who create campaigns – observe numerous stimuli and responses too. Advertising campaigns aren’t formulaic processes that employ reclaimed creative and tactics. The planner must constantly assess the performance of content and channels and audiences. They have to understand how people are reacting messages and when those reactions turn into conversions. Planners must identify and quantify connections between channels as well as the nature of interactive encounters. Conductors and planners have comparable aims.

For instance, the conductor accommodates the dancer’s spontaneity. Any great artist will improvise from time to time and dancers are no exception. The conductor must detect the improvisation and adjust the music to ensure it still fits. Market conditions can change just as quickly. A great planner will make astute changes to exploit new opportunities. They’ll shift channels and messages constantly to achieve the best possible outcome.

Conductors protect the dancers when they get tired. When they see a dancer is dragging, they increase the tempo of the music to get to the end of the scene faster, so the performer has the chance to rest. Planners connect with business operations to detect pressures on supply chains, inventory or finance. They adjust the campaigns to alleviate stress in other parts of the business. They may reduce volumes or feature different products to protect those other teams.

The conductor injects energy into the performance when it starts to get flat. They change the pace or volume of the music to give the dancers a boost. A good planner infuses new energy into a campaign in much the same way. They may amplify the value of incentives, increase the frequency of offers or prioritize challenging a creative to make a distinctive connection with customers and prospects.

Much like the score of a ballet, a marketing strategy is dynamic and fluid. The alliance of conductor, orchestra and dancers results in a collective inventiveness that makes each performance unique while honoring the spirit of the work. It’s like the collaboration between a planner, creative designers and media planners who support a shared plan, but change on the fly to create experiences that surpass the value of the plan. Being such a strategist, requires that you pay attention to many different signals in the marketplace. It demands a deft touch to ensure that it changes to respond to new opportunities and it challenges you to protect the other resources in your business.