“Technology is changing the world.”
How many times have we heard it? And today, could any statement be more prosaic?
Of course, it’s indisputable. The job of top marketer is changing – it involves new areas of responsibility, requires new internal collaborations and offers a chance to access a broader array of tools and technology than ever before.
At Nintendo, we currently operate on at least a dozen social media channels. We were present on none of these when I started in this job, just a little more than four years ago–because most of them didn’t exist. And this doesn’t count our own broad online presence via the channels we host, including our discreet, game-focused social network called Miiverse and the ability to build relationship with fans on their very own customized Nintendo gaming devices.
So, yes, the digital age is changing everything, right?
Well, yes—and no.
In my first marketing job, the Internet as we know it did not exist. It changed everything.
And before that, so did TV. And radio before that. You get the picture.
This is in no way meant to diminish the growing importance and value of analytics or social media. They give us insight, and personal contact, that simply weren’t possible before.
But as a marketer, it’s vital for me to draw the distinction between tools that can inform your world…and those you let run your world.
At Nintendo, we’ve long maintained a history of limiting the use of research. This has certainly expanded in recent years, but the impetus really hasn’t. It’s always been our belief that simply asking people what they want—or analyzing them to achieve the same end—is inherently self-restricting. Because, in short, people can never tell you they want things that they haven’t yet imagined. The imagination part is our job.
In recent years, this has included advances like motion control, touch screen and glasses-free 3D display. And on the software side, ground-breaking games like Nintendogs, Brain Age Splatoon, Super Mario Maker and Wii Fit.
These simply were not things a focus group could identify, because consumers hadn’t imagined them yet. Each of those games sold tens of millions worldwide, on platforms that also sold in the tens of millions. Don’t get me wrong. Listening is vitally important. But so is thinking boldly about innovation and striving always to create new experiences, be they gaming experiences or other experiences.
So, to conclude with another over-used metaphor, technology has made our toolbox bigger and more diverse. It’s grown to extend both our productivity and our reach.
But we will always hold to the belief that the most important element in our creative process is the craftsman who carries the toolbox. Yes, he or she must be aware of the surrounding world.
But creativity operates in a much wider sphere, where the inspiration of a single human being can make the world a more enjoyable place for millions of others.