Category Archives: inspiration

Clarity of Vision by Oldsmobile

 

Recently I received some much-needed clarity and it came to me in the shape of an Oldsmobile.

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Pinball Wizard

Creature pin

I love pinball machines and that’s partly because they remind me of those halcyon days of my youth – inexorably linked to car culture – of carefree days (and nights) cruising to games arcades, milk bars and making a play for pinball wizardry.

Apart from the nostalgia trip, they’re also works of engineering, design and art crammed into a wooden cabinet.  If you don’t know what I mean, get a load of one some day and take note of the artwork, the design, the colour, the screen-printing (yes, screen-printing; heard of that?), the lights, the sounds, the themes and of course the design of the game play.  Way more character than a PlayStation, but I digress.

Most of all though, I simply love the challenge of playing them because no two games are ever the same (ever).  That got me thinking about the insight to be drawn from pinball, applied to marketing and business planning (particularly in the context of a more strategic, longer run view).

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“Come fly with me…”

Being remarkable and memorable involves deliberate steps.

Change the scheme.
Alter the mood.
Interrupt the routine.
Be unexpected.

Need an illustration and example? Watch how this (now famous) airline steward does just that during the usually mundane cabin announcement before the tragic experience that’s air travel in the now times.

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No Elvis impersonators

no elvis impersonators
I have only one creative rule: no Elvis impersonators.

I was presented with a creative idea using Elvis impersonators once.  It wasn’t pretty.

Some Elvis impersonators pay genuine homage to The King, but in general most of them are parasites, profiting from his brand or at best, making fun of a great artist during a period in which he was truly troubled (in fact I view Elvis impersonators in much the same way as politicians in that they probably get into it for the right reasons but eventually lose sight of why, though now I’m really off the track).

Other than that one rule, all ideas are game on as far as I’m concerned because creative daring is essential for breaking free from the clutter to get your story told and heard.
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Will the real creativity please stand up?

Daring and creativity is no more important to brands than right now.

Standing out from the crowd, a shiny makeover and carving a patch is one of the most powerfully important things any brand can do in any climate but especially now when the marketing landscape is rife with tumbleweed.

Why is it then that there is so little creativity in marketing?

When creativity is the single most vital element of business and marketing strategy, I’m constantly struck at the lack of imagination, creativity and allegiance to “doing as always” shown by an industry supposedly built on the function of attention-getting.

A Linkedin discussion caught my eye this week with the subject of which question – if you had only one – is the most important to ask in a creative brief.  The responses were hot; there were 50 when I joined in.  It was posted across several boards but I caught it on the Australian Marketing Institute’s board.

The respondents’ titles were impressive; director of this brand, head of marketing for that one, creative director for some agency but what struck me was the distinct lack of imagination shown in some of the responses, from an industry that’s supposedly built on creativity.

While there were a few provocative responses, most of them smacked of same and some were truly laughable (in fact sackable, in my opinion).  Several respondents suggested that asking “who is your target market” was the single most important question.  “What does your product do” made too many appearances to be ignored and it was even suggested that the most important question was – wait for it – “do you have a healthy budget”.  Enough said.

Marketing is as creative an art form as any and marketers should seek to tell stories about their brand or product that engage audiences.  Questions about how much budget do you have, and who’s your target market don’t draw stories out.

When I wrote about the importance of looking beyond the latest killer tactic and getting back to marketing boring, that doesn’t mean pulling the valve on the creative juice tank and letting it all flow down the drain.  You can be wildly off the mark if you market without any consideration of the fundamentals but equally you can’t tell a story and engage an audience without creativity

I don’t know where all the creativity bled out of marketing but I think it’s time for a transfusion.

What do I know?

Before I meet you I may not know what you do, what you sell, what it does, who (or why) it impacts or what market gap it fills or shifts.  I may not know anything about your business, cause or mission.  In fact, there’s every likelihood that as far as your business, product, market and goals go, you know bucket loads more than I do.

So what qualifies me to tell you how you should market, what media channels you should look into, what strategies and tactics you should employ to build your brand and your business as a whole?

I’m not going to bore you with my background but if you want to, please follow this self-promotion link.

Learning and experience is where most strengths lie.  Knowing what works, how and why.  Taking what’s basically a standard marketing framework and adapting it to your unique proposition via thoughtful analysis and following it with daring action.

Insight is one of my strengths.  I see angles and stories not everyone else does, which form the basis for cut-through strategy, creating unique positioning, memorable experiences and communications tactics that raise a ruckus with desired audiences.

Through my experiences and learning I created my own pathway, if you like (framework is kind of last year) that I use to bind and check the elements (and progress) of a plan, both strategically and tactically.  It was a long, provocative, creative process to get to this, though it doesn’t look that way when you’re just reading 6 words on a page (one never sees how much work goes into something and in a sense, that’s a good thing).

Invite, Entertain, Interact, Experience, Engage, Motivatetm can be applied at the grass-roots level of a single, tactical piece of communication or as deep, strategic and paradigm shifting as organisational change, IT systems, value-chain integration or account management systems, customer experience systems or brand repositioning.

Though it’s my trademark, it’s not a trade secret (but the way I apply it is).  In fact I think it’s pretty basic, though it’s amazing how many marketing or communications plans I see that don’t do it.

If what you’re planning doesn’t answer “yes” to the question “does it?” for the first five words (or binds together with another tactic to answer the queston), then you’re going to struggle to create motivation, which should be the desired action of any marketing or broader business plan.

I felt it was important to say that.