In the preview trailer for our episode of AMC’s new show The Pitch, the first quote is of me saying “I have no tolerance for dumb ideas”. I received messages today asking me about my opinion regarding how my “TV character” was going to be portrayed based on this 30-sec trailer. At first, I was a little uneasy with my introduction being an aggressive quote…but honestly, this is who I am. I’m passionate, too intense at times, but no one can accuse me of being indifferent.
True, this line is one sentence picked from a two-hour interview about my philosophy on the industry…but when speaking about general marketing it’s something that would come out of my mouth anyway. I have no tolerance for dumb ideas, and neither should you.
Some folks will try and point that the statement is redundant, that no one likes dumb ideas. Unfortunately, if this were true every ad would be good and the movie Battleship would have never been made. Spend five minutes watching TV, open any magazine, go to most company websites or Facebook pages and you’ll find example after example of mediocrity and downright dumb ideas that someone had to sign off on.
You owe it to yourself, your company, and your clients to be better than that.
As a social media marketer or digital strategist you’re paid to be smart. You’re paid to provide insights and ideas that will fulfil client objectives or give the best opportunity to do so.
Working in a business where your mind and thoughts are the product is both a blessing and a curse. You’re going to have differing opinions with your team about what are good ideas and the best way to execute them. Eventually, one idea gets picked and your agency better makes sure it’s the right one. So what can you do to help minimize the potential that your next idea or campaign is not dumb?
Think Beyond The Ordinary
The same ole way its been done does not work anymore. We no longer compete in a vacuum with the direct competition; we compete with anything that can take the attention away from our campaign and product. That’s a big damn list. So in order to get noticed you need smart, highly creative ideas that set a tone and experience about a brand…not just an advertisement and slogan. Besides, it’s a lot more fun to work this way.
If ideas and strategies are brought up that you disagree with, it’s vital for you to have the courage to engage in tough candid conversations where you can openly disagree. On the other hand, you need to be open to having your team question your thinking as well. Tough open conversations should lead to better ideas.
Back Your Insights With Reason
If you have an opinion about whether an idea is good or bad, you need to be able to present your insights with reason…not just a hunch. Stats are the best way to reinforce ideas, but you need to easily be able to explain your position that makes sense from the client’s perspective and behaviour of their target market.
Poke Holes With Questions
The fastest way to test an idea is by asking easy questions to try and poke holes in the thinking. Asking “why” an idea or strategy will work forces everyone to think deeper about their ideas. Asking smart questions will eventually reveal whether your idea is good or bad. It’s also great practice for selling to the client when they’re inevitably going to ask them.
Speak With Those Who Have To Execute
When coming up with an idea and strategy that will need to be executed in an area that is not your expertise, it’s a good idea to bring in the team that will be responsible for success or failure. They’ll let you know if your idea can be done and if the budget and time estimate is accurate. The earlier you can bounce your thinking off them the earlier you’ll know if you’re going down the right path.
So no, when it comes to dumb ideas I have no tolerance. I did not get in this business to solve solutions in the same way it’s always been done. Besides, the same ole way it’s always been done has a much smaller success rate. I make no apologies about being passionate about my work. Yes, I’m sure I could sometimes word things better…but that just wouldn’t make for good TV now would it.
*Note: I’m not referring any part of the brainstorming process. That’s a time to be dumb, nuts, crazy and see what sticks*