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Strategy | Intent | Persistence (and tigers and bears OH MY!) December 8, 2008

Posted by David Gillespie in advertising, business strategy, digital strategy, industry news, intent, philosophy, work/life.
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Digital strategy is a business decision, not a marketing decision. That doesn’t mean your marketing team shouldn’t be in the room, it means everyone else should be there with them.

Julian Cole wrote a piece a few months back saying “Don’t trust an agency with your digital strategy.” It does then beg the question (if I may, for a moment, speak client-side) “Then whom shall I trust in your festering cesspool of sharks, narcissists and hopeless egomaniacs?

Good question.

A single unit needs to own a company’s strategy, and they need to be able to talk about each channel with authority. That sounds like a no-brainer I know, so I’m going to put this out there and see how it feels: you won’t find it anywhere where the last name of an ad giant from yester-year hangs their name on the front door. That isn’t because they don’t have intelligent folk from all disciplines working for them, that is because their business models and internal practices will not permit the structural changes required to achieve genuine innovation and next-generation creativity for their client’s businesses, let alone their own.

If anyone is hearing that for the first time, I promise I’m not the first.

I can’t say I know all of the answers, or even any of them. But not enough people are asking the question. Or questions; you can phrase them in a myriad of ways, let’s maybe start with something like this: why does Clemenger BBDO in Melbourne now have four people in its planning department, none of them digital natives? Tim, who worked there as a member of the planning team up until a week ago, had this to say:

I’ve been arguing for a long time now that as product, advertising, sales and service, all get closer together, advertising agencies really need to become creative marketing consultancies…some drastic restructuring needs to take place.

Drastic restructuring then did take place, though perhaps not along the lines he was thinking.

David Armano has talked about a move away from the silver bullet, much like Tim has. I took a personality test recently that told me I rated close to 0 when it came to perfectionism, but was a polar opposite when it came to creativity and a love of thinking. Call me biased (I won’t argue), but that sounds like something very different to where we’re currently at, and given that test it is no wonder I’m a fan of this new direction. I’m also a fan of offering substance, something advertising doesn’t do very well at all.

I’ve talked a lot about intent, and I think this chart speaks to the heart of the same thing I’m on about. It is also the same thing Seth Godin means when he says the following:

Persistence isn’t using the same tactics over and over. That’s just annoying.

Persistence is having the same goal over and over.

My friend Michael Hewitt-Gleeson calls it SDNT: Start Do Notice Think.

I call it intent, and when I talk about it, I talk about constanty refining the work we’re doing to ensure the outcome is matching the intent; if it isn’t we change it until it is.

Intent is at the heart of everything we do, and the group that owns your strategy should have it etched onto their brains, directing nothing less than strategy that delivers the intended result tomorrow better than it did today. Starting here I’m advocating a move away from the single-minded proposition to the statement of intent; it is fluid and flexible, and it ensures the goal is forever just over the horizon. It will keep you and your organisation passionate and motivated and restless.

And that is how it should be.

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Comments»

1. Tim Beveridge - December 8, 2008

It’s very flattering to be included in the same post as David Armano and Seth Godin. Thanks David. Oh, BTW BBDO actually have 5 planners now. They did have 6. But you’re right they’re all very very talented – but not in any respect digital natives.

My analysis of the situation is that when you fall on tough times you retreat to what you know. For traditional agencies, that’s the big ad, for those of us who are more prone to innovation – that’s innovation.

I like Seth’s quote too. And in that vein, the goal is still to drive better business and we know we won’t do that through old tactics.

2. katiechatfield - December 11, 2008

Lovely thinking!

You’re so right…strategy and channel planning in our transmedia environment is a huge challenge for clients and agencies alike. The number of people who have hands on experience across multiple channels is limited indeed and I think you’ve really got to the heart of the problem: how do you move away from a Single Minded Propositon and into a multifaceted experience?

What we need are gems and diamond cutters.

There’s a champion conversation that you migt liek to follow instigated by Charles here: http://www.charlesfrith.com/2008/10/charlies-angle-not-made-for-tv.html, with some addiiton colour by Paul here: http://heehawmarketing.typepad.com/hee_haw_marketing/2008/11/agencies-and-change-shifts-and-what-not.html


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