A marketing tip from Agent J

There’s a scene in the movie MIB that offers a valuable piece of insight.

When Officer Edwards (Will Smith’s character) of the NYPD turns up for his MIB recruitment interview, the competition is hot. The best of the best (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines) are all in the room vying for a single position in the MIB.

The recruits face a series of tests (or two, so a short series).

Edwards gets the job.

Why not one of the highly-educated, combat-experienced and government-trained members of the military elite?

He honed in on the one thing beyond what the others were seeing.

First test was problem solving. Recruits, seated in ball-chairs, had to do a written test (who knows what’s being tested; it’s not mentioned because it doesn’t matter). Thin paper, sharp pencils and nothing to lean on but soft surfaces make for some frustrating film. Then Edwards breaks from the struggle and, seeing a table in the middle of the room (which was there all the while), drags it over and props up comfortably to do the test. Even stops to ask the others over but they continue to struggle along thinking the written test result is the aim.

It wasn’t, of course. Solving the process problem, using the available resources, was the real test and Edwards was the only one that passed.

Critical thinking is tested in a ghetto-scene shooting gallery, filled with cardboard monsters, aliens, and a smiling human schoolgirl. The military came out instantly and blow holes through the aliens (the most immediate danger). Edwards, on the other hand – after carefully surveying the situation – takes a single, well-aimed shot right between little Tiffany’s eyes.

Listening to Edwards explain his actions is a brilliant piece of insight into taking a breath and assessing before acting, which in many contexts is about focusing on the right task beyond the one you’re looking at.

The strategic, tactical and individual applications of this insight are almost unlimited.

When you’re developing a marketing plan, are you planning to a vision and strategy or just following what everyone else is doing? ¬†Are you focusing too much on what seems tactically important right now at the expense of your longer term vision?

When looking at a business opportunity are you looking at the offer or what the offer offers (what you think the market wants versus what the market really wants)?

When answering a job ad, are you answering the criteria or focusing on your value to the core need?

Ask yourself and take a tip from Agent J.

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