In the early 1940s, a new movement began among younger jazz musicians. Tired of playing the same standards to popular dance audiences, these musicians began experimenting with rhythm, harmony and tempo to create what would become bebop, or bop. Those innovations changed the direction of jazz music.

The New Era of Marketing

It appears that marketing has gone (and may still be going) through a similar evolution. Driven by fierce competition for the consumer's attention among innumerable products and services, marketers are being forced to play by a changing set of rules. Like jazz musicians, only those marketers with the talent, experience and discipline to innovate will succeed.

What Jazz Taught Marketing

1. Practice, practice, practice

I don't know anyone who talks fondly of practice. The monotonous repetition and constant focus on what one can't do is frustrating, but essential.

John Coltrane, a post-bop legend, was obsessed with practice. He would practice in his home all day without answering the phone or door. At night, during sets, he would leave the bandstand after his solos to keep practicing until it was time for his next solo.

Marketers, too, must practice the basics of their trade. Discovering what works and how consumers make choices lay the foundation for more sophisticated decision-making later on.

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Keith Jennings is director of planning and marketing for Hamilton Health Care System in Dalton, Georgia. He can be reached at