So the final ramble about the presentation I did last week at Future Flash. It's the most navel gazing one of the lot as it's about what I think agencies, and particularly planners, need to do if they want to make small ideas happen. Here goes:
1. Build brands from the bottom up rather than the top down
Brands aren't how we define them but are things formed in people’s minds. As Jeremy Bullmore said many years ago, "Consumers build an image [of a brand] as birds build nests. From the scraps and straws they chance upon." So wouldn't it make more sense to perhaps, for once, build our brands from the bottom up rather than the top down; from actions rather than brand vegetables or mission statements. It's again about being action, rather than word, driven. Making real things and see how they do in the world rather than spend 3 months thinking about whether your brand is amusing or funny.
2. Be useful,interesting, entertaining and playful in the service of people
Preferably all four of the above, at least three.
3. Think about what communication strategy can learn from UX design
Whether we try to sweeten it or not, communication strategy tends to be built on the assumption that interruption is best. Maybe we can learn from UX design and think about communicating in a way that removes friction in a near invisible way and get credit for that, rather than shouting more cleverly. At the very least let's focus on the right 3 degress not 360 degrees. I still think we have a tendency as an industry to deploy the 'Dr Seuss Communication Strategy' - to put it on mats, on hats and on cats. (Thanks Mr Robson for the inspiration for Seuss).
4. Do something and interesting things will happen
Again be action oriented. Make communication products, not PowerPoint. Be biased towards actions, not meetings
5. Build a culture of experimentation not planning
Do stuff and learn from it rather than learning and doing. It's more realistic and the cost of trying stuff is getting lower and lower. Place lots of bets and think about your Communication R&D strategy and budget - or join the 5% Club as Contagious likes to put it.
6. Realize perfection is the enemy
We spend far too long trying to make things perfect - the words on a brief, the layout - rather than getting ideas out there in to the real world. As Lorne Michaels says of Saturday Night Live, "the show doesn't go on because it's ready; it goes on because it's 1130." We need to realize that good enough is more often than not good enough.
7. Be rewarded for good behavior
Finally this controversial one as it's about money and how we get paid. The way agencies by and large are compensated - time plus - encourages bad behavior: get as many people as you can to work really slowly. On one thing. Repeat.
What if we got rewarded in a way that encouraged better behavior. What if we got paid for outcomes rather than outputs or inputs? What if we got paid for business results driven by our portfolio management? What if we got paid for being more efficient in the way we work and prodigious in our output? What if we learned from builders and contractors, of all people, and got bonused for finishing stuff ahead of time?
This talk was all about need to break the tyranny of big and embrace small. I genuinely believe it's what we have to do in order to remain relevant. We have to stop conflating the outcome with the means.
As I've said before I think the agencies of the future will combine the storytelling skills of Madison Avenue with the inventive, purposeful experimentation and speed of Silicon Valley. Small ideas, and big success, will live here.