Who won the Super Bowl in 1984? I’m not sure many people in advertising care. Like most, what I remember was Apple’s 1984 TV spot. It was poetic genius on a 13″ off-color screen. I was in shock that this amazing piece of film could be a TV commercial. It was many years later when I embraced a career in advertising, but looking back, each of my steps can be traced to Ridley Scott’s hammer running heroine and for that I am grateful. Oh, and for anyone outside of Oakland or LA who cares, it was the Raiders.
B2B marketing is stuck in a rut. Tired of the “same old, same old”? The New Year is a great time to infuse more creative thinking into your marketing planning.
Here are a few key steps that can help you engage your team and inspire them to generate original ideas.
STEP 1: Reconnect with Your Brand and Target Audience
If you believe your company’s marketing ideas have been lacking a certain creative spark lately, then it’s quite possible your team is losing sight of the big picture as they deal with the craziness of the day-to-day. It happens.
Don’t worry. Just go back to the basics.
Print your brand statement.
Print out your brand mission or brand statement in a large, highly visible format. Reconnect with your team on its meaning. Though they’ll probably never admit it to you, some of your team members may be surprised by what they read in that statement.
Don’t have a brand statement? That’s like exploring the wilderness without a compass. Before you take another step, nail down what you’re about in a concise statement.
Write up a 50-word summary of the state of your market and share with your team.
Over the years, we’ve heard, "I'm not sure what's going on out there" far too many times from employees in large marketing organizations. Executive leadership teams often make the problem worse by neglecting to include employees in the big picture.
Do the opposite. Get your team members together and engage them on the outlook for 2017: What's changed over the past year? What are our major market influences? How do our business objectives align with our marketing objectives? Where are the gaps?
You’ll find that your team members crave a big-picture understanding of your business—and have totally unique perspectives to contribute to the conversation. Take careful notes. When your discussion is finished, craft your “state of the market” summary and share it with everyone.
Refresh and hone your target audience profiles.
Have you written a persona doc for each group within your target audience? Has your audience changed—even slightly—in terms of age, gender, budget, or decision-making power? Do you understand what motivates your audience, what they want most personally and professionally, and where their biggest pain points lie?
If you've already dialed this in, give yourself a pat on the back. If not, don't put it off until June—get it right in January.
STEP 2: Brainstorm with Your Team Early in The Year
Is it just us, or is B2B marketing all starting to sound the same? The overall focus on following best practices is intimidating marketing organizations into producing a lot of “me too” content. It's a common trap for even the most experienced marketer—but it’s one you can avoid.
Call a brainstorming meeting.
You’re surrounded by experts who want to contribute. Having a healthy, no-judgment ideation session can produce some outside-the-box ideas. So, put together a list of your main challenges and preliminary ideas, and get the team together. Above all, make the session fun.
Come up with new offers.
Look, we’ve got nothing against white papers. They work. But could a different offer work even better?
For B2B, the New Year is a great time to totally revamp your offers for lead generation and demand generation campaigns. By repacking offers into more interesting concepts, you could see a spike in your response rates. Assign your creative team to come up with new titles, combinations, and artwork for campaigns—or include your whole marketing team in the exercise.
STEP 3: Update Your Creative Brief
If you don't have a creative brief for your team, start the New Year by developing one. If you already have a brief, take this opportunity to tighten it up. Most creative briefs are cumbersome to fill out and have more details than the creative team needs or wants.
At Anderson Creative, we’ve put together a new creative brief template that bucks conventional models. It’s lean, edgy, and fun. While it gathers all the essential information for any marketing project, it also asks unusual questions to inspire a new level of creative thinking for everyone.
We hope these ideas help lead to even more creative thinking throughout 2017. Let us know how it goes!
A recent meeting prompted me to jot down a few thoughts on the topic of cursing at work.
I not sure at what point it became culturally acceptable to curse at work, especially in marketing or advertising. At some juncture there was an odd reversal from the business climates of the 1950's. Liquid lunches have become politically incorrect (although Fridays are still a grey area), and F-bombs have found their way into the realm of professional jargon. Okay. Go figure. Most of the ad agencies that I have worked with drop F-bombs like loose change.
"Nice flocking ad."
"It's flocking hot today."
"Flooooock! I missed the taco truck?"
My very first agency fed from the F-bomb trough with incredible fervor. The 'F' word was embraced as a welcome filler for any word (verb, noun, adverb or adjective) in pretty much every conversation. Occasionally one or two bombs were lobbed into a creative brief. I was green and fresh out of college, clad in a recently purchased suit that would only again surface for weddings. I was not dressed for the unexpected torrential downpour of F-bombs inside the walls of my first agency job, and I had no idea that parties I attended in high school had somehow prepared me for the professional workforce.
One conversation with my boss meant to discuss my promotion from intern to Jr. Art Director essentially went like this:
Boss: "Hey, how's it going? Sit the flock down."
Me: "Fine. Thanks."
Boss: "So those flocking guys in the back - they flocking like you. And they don't flocking like anybody."
Me: "Oh. Okay."
Boss: "So I'm going to make you a Jr. Art Director. Here's what I am going to pay you: _____ ." (The proposed figure was absurdly low and too obscene for this blog post.)
Me: I thought, "Flock! I am going to flocking starve to death," but my reply to my boss' offer was simply, "Okay. Anything else?"
Boss: "Yeah. Never wear that suit again. Thanks. Get the flock out."
I wish I was exaggerating, but there are certain moments in your life you just remember in detail.
As an intensifier, the 'F' word can be quite effective. It can pull people out of a post-lunch meeting coma, or it can be craftily delivered to liltingly convey emotions in a down-to-earth manner meant to punctuate an idea. Some, however, just revel in the degree of crudeness that can be achieved — often quite creatively.
The dropping of F-bombs, by the way, is not confined to America, although we do seemingly lead in the frequency of use. I found a guilty pleasure in www.fbomb.co, a brilliant time-waster of a site that plots F-bombs around the world as they are dropped. Apparently there are many more F-bombs being dropped in the U. S. than say, Thailand.
Needless to say, not everyone is comfy with profanity in the workplace. And, some people who are prolific users of four letter words in the office would never drop F-bombs in their own home. Maybe that's the reason. Maybe the words that are stifled at the breakfast table have to come out eventually. Maybe the office is the perfect place to let loose, despite the propensity to offend co-workers. Maybe it's irresponsible to let the bombs build up.
Emily Post's, The Etiquette Advantage In Business, takes this view:
Ahhh... Emily, how we bask in the warmth of your common sense.
It's a great book by the way; it's both thoughtful and classy.
I'd venture to say that most of my colleagues that drop F-bombs are smart enough to know when to bring it down a notch. For example, profanity might not be welcomed by a client during a new project pitch. If the client is dropping their own swear words, however, it might be a game-time decision to use similar vocabulary to establish rapport and camaraderie. There are often subtle signals that would indicate whether or not an F-bomb would be a useful tool or merely alienate an audience.
Maybe that's the most important point. Think first. Consider your audience. Then speak.
Words are powerful.