Bet you’re knee-deep in 2012 planning. Well, here’s an idea to maximize the freshness of your 2012 marketing plans: hold back 5% of your overall budget and put it into an “antigravity machine.”
Let me explain because there is an important human dynamic that can, well, pin your ideas down.
Gravity isn’t always attractive.
Your current agencies (advertising, PR, digital, etc.) are more than competent at the blocking and tackling. They know your brand, your sensibilities, the sacred cows, and your market, hopefully, as well as you do. But, like a comet that gets too close to a planet and succumbs to its gravitational pull, ideas can crash when the ideators are too close to the brand. The sacred cows, the repetitiveness, the conventional wisdom, the politics, the same trade shows, etc., all add to the gravitational force limiting the flight of the truly far-reaching ideas. It’s no one’s fault, nor is it a commentary on your agency’s level of talent. It’s simply human nature. But there’s a fix.
Enter, the antigravity machine.
One way to break the gravitational pull of “insider thinking” is to bring in a few choice outsiders at exactly the right time in your planning process. Outsiders will have no emotional or political ties to the other 95% of the plan so they are completely “weightless” and free to ideate without any gravitational constraints. And that’s exactly the kind of thinking we’re after with this last 5%. You’ve already done your blocking and tackling. Now it’s time for a few Hail Marys!
Three strategies to recruit your antigravity machine:
- Freelancers: I like the idea of hiring three freelancers for a full day to do nothing but ideate against that last 5%. For added perspective, I’d consider two creative people (writers or art directors) and one innovative media planner. Brief them and put them in a room for the day. Maybe feed them.
- AOR people from other accounts: you could ask your current agency to recruit a few choice talented folks from their shop who do not work on your account, and, so are not restrained by any “account-gravity.” Be sure to pay the agency for the man hours.
- Hire a firm that specializes in marketing ideas, like mine (Ideasicle): shameless plug, I know, but this kind of project is smack dab in the middle of our wheelhouse. Our talent is pre-recruited, we’re total outsiders, we enjoy all the benefits of Expert Sourcing and virtual ideation (and there are many), we love projects like these, and we we’re not built to be anyone’s Agency of Record, so are not a threat.
Now, set them free.
Regardless of how you recruit your antigravity machine, here’s how you might brief them in one hour or less, once NDAs are signed:
- Share the 95% marketing plan, a sampling of your intended communications (ads, web site, social stuff, etc.), and any inspiring thoughts you have to get them going.
- As importantly, give this team permission to be irresponsible, irreverent, rebellious, and a little nuts. Think Hail Mary, not a standard screen pass.
- Tell them you want to build upon the 95% but not replicate it in any way. The 5% needs to be completely experimental stuff.
- Lastly, let them know the monetary value of the 5%, so they know roughly what the ultimate budget parameters will be, but then tell them to present way more ideas than you’ll ever be able to afford. That way, you’ll have plenty to sift through.
And then…let your antigravity machine rip and see what you get.
I would strongly encourage you to hold off going through the ideas until you can go through them with your agency partner together and at the same time. Two reasons: one, some of the ideas will likely inspire your agency partner with “augments” to the 95% plan; two, the agency will see your positive reaction to “wild and crazy” ideas.
And that last one might just lessen the gravity of the whole situation.