June 05, 2008

Grand Strategic Insights

One of the best pieces of advice I can give to anyone in marketing or advertising is this:

  • Be eternally skeptical of grand strategic insights

Planners, researchers and their ilk love to take a little information and turn it into a heroic vision. Beware of this. Most valuable insights are small and contingent.

I was once at an advertising conference and a planning director was making a presentation. She was talking about groups she was conducting for a bank. The groups were going nowhere. She asked a participant “If you could invent the perfect bank, what would it be like?” He sat there for a minute or two without answering.

“I suddenly realized,” she said, “I had the answer right there before me. People don’t want to think about their bank. Then I knew I had the strategy: Bank of Whatever-It-Was. It’s the bank you don’t have to think about!

I have a different explanation for the above. She asked a moronic question and the respondent sat there dazed and confused. From the flimsiest of observations she drew a majestic, idiotic conclusion.

Worst of all, the agency and the client bought it.

No comments: