Are you curious, or a know-it-all?
There’s a valid reason most people hate politicians–– they’re full of crap.
Politicians are know-it-alls. They claim to have the answer and sell it as gospel. “This is the absolute best way–– the ONLY way–– forward. Trust me!”
Until they shift positions and announce a new tact guaranteed to be the perfect solution. For sure!
Solving complex problems is easy! Amazing.
Imagine how refreshing it would be if a politician acted human and occasionally said, “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure. Let’s try it and 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 ‘em… 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 business. Over a long holiday weekend, the agency’s entire creative department (400 people) began conceiving brilliant FedEx ad campaigns.
And after three days, every team working on the creative exploratory felt it had the answer for how to make FedEx’s business skyrocket. We were confident we had mined the secret formula for turbo-charging the overnight shipping business.
Imagine that! Bada bing–– easy peasy.
Our agency didn’t win the Fed-Ex business, and the winning agency created a campaign that lived about as long as it takes a cup of hot coffee to cool down.
This marketing business is apparently much harder than it looks.
But it’s like that in every new business pitch. Agencies swagger as they try and divine quicksilver solutions for golden success.
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 create brilliant answers in new business pitches when they share little accurate business information (out of fear) and give cryptic feedback on work (keeping their cards close to the chest).
Trust and collaboration are crucial. And usually absent.
The artificially contrived nature of most new business pitches is like trying to guess a number between one and ten–– and later discovering 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, discover, learn, and envelope yourself in knowledge.
Get lost. Good and lost. Hansel and Gretel without any bread lost!
Then–– maybe then–– we’ll have a chance of finding our way.