There’s a good reason most people hate politicians–– they’re full of crap.
Politicians assume know-it-all roles. They always claim to have the answer and sell it as gospel. It’s the absolute best way–– the ONLY way–– forward.
Until they shift positions and announce a new tact that is the absolute guaranteed perfect solution. For sure!
Amazing. Solving complex problems is easy!
Imagine how refreshing it would be if a politician acted human and occasionally said, “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure. We’ll have to see.” Or, “Beats the hell out of me.”
Marketers sometimes behave like politicians. They develop a marketing attack plan and stick to it, no matter what. They dance with the one that brung them, and dance until their feet fall off.
Ad agency people usually do the opposite. When invited to pitch an account, we ignore the past. We’re convinced there’s a better way (why else would the account be in review?).
Long ago, I worked at a huge agency when the Federal Express account came up for review. Our agency was one of a few invited to pitch. The entire creative department (hundreds of people strong) began conceiving brilliant FedEx ad campaigns over a long holiday weekend.
And over three days, every team working on the creative exploratory felt it had the answer for how to make FedEx’s business really take off. We were confident we had mined the secret formula for turbo-charging overnight shipping success.
Our agency didn’t get the account. The winning agency created a campaign that lived about as long as it takes a cup of hot coffee to cool down.
This business is apparently a lot harder than it looks.
But it’s like that in every new business pitch. Agencies swagger as they try and divine quicksilver golden success in them thar hills. Hey, it’s what we’re paid to do–– swagger, strut and dispense brilliance while you wait.
Of course, it’s preposterous. But it’s equally asinine for clients to expect agencies to have brilliant answers in new business pitches with the guarded knowledge they share and the cryptic feedback they give.
It’s like trying to guess a number between one and ten, and later finding out the answer is a fraction. (I had a feeling it was 4 and 7/16ths.)
The truth is that thinking we have the answer almost never leads to the answer. The best approach is to attack the situation with genuine curiosity, questioning things, maintaining our empathy and humanity in search of truth and illumination.
Don’t leap to answers, be curious and envelope yourself in knowledge.
Get lost. Good and lost. Hansel and Gretel without any bread lost!
Then, maybe then, we have a chance of finding our way.