zaterdag 16 mei 2009

Clients remember: output and risk not input and gains matter when judging creative work

The cultural and commercial worldwide success know as MTV Unplugged came about by sheer luck and coincidence.

Bon Jovi was asked to perform at the '89 MTV Awards. The crowd at home and in the audience responded with great enthusiasm to their stripped down version of two great electric songs. Executives at MTV took a chance and ran with it. The rest is history.

Never judge the work on how it came about. Best never to ask either. Only judge it by the outcome. For the process is often times messy and unruly and sometimes literally just takes seven and a half minutes to produce great work.

And don't worry if it will become a hit. You don't know. Look at the risk instead. If the downside is something you will survive, take a chance, so at least you know what does not work and you can move on to something else.

Nobody got ahead by staying at the back of the pack.

vrijdag 15 mei 2009

everything you need to know about getting a date and doing effective advertising

Flowers? No
Money? No (perhaps, but for the sake of argument, let's not open that can of worms)
Cars? No
Stylish dressing? No
Humor? Mehh
Good Looks? Don't hurt, but not really dealbreakers
Social skills? Usefull
Power? Hmmm...

All of the above are really just rationale that help propagate certain emotional triggers once all that matters is said and done.

So without further ado, and with an explanation following, the one thing you need to know, the only thing you will ever need to know, the thing you wish somebody had told you when you were younger... to get a date or to create advertising work that works is:

Get people to do something for you. *pin dropping*

Get people to do something for you. That's it. You don't have to believe me, and you are allowed to be sceptical.

But is it true. Under certain circumstances, which are not difficult to figure out or to set up, all you need to do, to be effective, is to get people to do something for you. Allow me to explain.

As I was walking around Berlin, I experienced something that amazed me.

Being approached by strangers, who, after spotting me and my mates standing there with camera's, would volunteer to take our picture infront of set building or whatever.

Total strangers who after taking the picture would, without being asked to, proceed to explain something about the place, ask what we had seen, so they could recommend other things and in some cases even offer to show the way or play guide. And all the while seeming to enjoy it and having a blast doing it. Absolutely amazing.

So I asked myself: would asking for it have the same effect? Would me going up to total strangers and asking to have my picture taken, have some of the same generosity effects?

It turns out that it does. Walking up to elderly, kids, mothers, police men, and off course good looking females, pretty much resulted in the same things:

1) They were more then happy to take my/our picture;
2) When given the chance to, most were happy to either walk us to some other piece of culture, tell us what they knew about that one, or exchange numbers to continue the conversation at another time.

Asking a tourist or a local was not much different as far as the actual action taken was concerned. The conversation that took place after was, but that is natural as the context changes from interaction to interaction.

This experience a bit of an eye opener. And it also helped me cristalize certain vague ideas.

First of it made me even stronger in my belief that awereness is overrated. And that people who think in terms of

1) Awereness
2) Interest
3) Action/purchase

are missing the point and are wasting time and money that clients and agencies could and should be using more wisely.

As I touched upon here, the idea of figuring out the conversion side of things down the line, is thinking that is not going to help convince clients with limited budgets and consumers with selective attention.

Start with action in mind and build from there.

1) solicit an (predictable)act (of culture)
2) create a conversation ( and in the case of brands a relationship, though remember that the one with the least invested controls the relationship)
3) allow for the experience to spread

This is a far more effective way to go about things. Perhaps counter intuitive but effective.


1) First off because by getting people to do something for you, instead of you doing something for them, you can cancel out major penny gap effects.

See people are inherently selfish. If you cook a meal for others, you do so off course to have them enjoy that meal, but there is also the expectation of getting some kind of compliment. Nothing wrong with that, but the selfishness is always around. Not being acknowlegded makes for sour grapes fast

And well, most brands, when making that piece of funny film, commercial, ambient or giving that stuff away for free, act friendly but expect to monetize on that friendship at some point down the line. But as Dan Ariely has shown us, doing business after we have been social does not work, most of the time and for most industries.

By asking for action from the other party first a couple of things happen. The most obvious is the fact that you learn the other party's flight or fight mechanism. If they don't run away, or turn hostile on you, well you got yourselve a keeper.

Always nice to know up front and not after you did your whole song and dance routine, if only to keep you from overcommiting some sterile strategy that got the ok in focus groups (kicking a ball into the back of the net during a match is still the only way to score, nobody get's point for training extra had). Which off course does wonder for the accountability of the effectiveness of an agency, as you end up doing stuff that works in the field.

Secondly from action follows belief and enthusiasm. Or more exactly the belief that "If I do something for you, well you must be ok. Because no way in hell am I gonna do something for someone I do not like. And if I like you, well I might as well like you alot."

Asking up front for action (and by the way this can be a small action, because as long as it has some cultural/social element build into it and is asked in the right context, it will resonate and kickstart our heuristic mind and thus resulting in conversion with bigger than expected certainty) we thus avoid the problem that most guys dread: How to go from friends to lovers after you've invested time and resources, making her think you are friends. Or how to convert all that awereness into action.

2) As I said here, the magic starts after the act is performed. After having asked for an act (of culture) by the other party, and this act is performed, the other becomes part of something shared. And if it is something worth spreading, he will do so if only for the simple but powerfull reason to have something new to say to friends and relatives.

In my personal experience, having my picture taken by other tourists with a mobile phone, allowed me to get the picture bluetoothed or mailed to me, my mates there and at home and all of their friends. A simple and easy way to make the act of taking a picture into something more, a story/conversation starter.


As I noted above, one does need to take into account certain things before asking for action.
A couple of major once are:

1) the context of asking

When I asked to get my picture taken at the subway near the appartment outside of the tourist city centre, the results were not as great. Still not to bad (as most people even though we are selfish, or perhaps because we are selfish and do it to make ouselves feel good, still want to help others when asked), but not as great. So the obvious lesson is: Context.

Right time, right place, determine how forthcoming the other will be and how effective the proposition asked will enhance the status of the one being asked in the eyes of his peers (turning down a tourist in a non tourist part of town, may not make you seem a bad city ambassador as when you do it at Checkpoint Charlie.)

2) The culture of the solicitation

As noted above asking something at the right time and place makes for better response. To upp it even more the question posed has to have some culture in it. Asking somebody to take your picture at a tourist spot, feels natural and right. Our instincts do not raise red flags. And since we are genetically trained to spot that which stand out in order to survive, we should take into account the history of humans when asking.

Asking people to look after your bag in a library, or asking for a light inside a pub, also work. One because well library = earnest= safe = off course you would watch a bag. The other because pub/club = fun = flirting, fire = danger. With the smoking ban it becomes somewhat of a law defying act thus making you seem masculine. (But this all pure speculation. Though the results were good. Better then asking for your picture to be taken in a library, or having someone watch your stuff in a club).

So there you have it folks, ask (don't give) for something that seems natural, fun and sharable and people will most likey do it, with pleasure and talk about it afterwards. All markets are solliciations, so might as well ask.

dinsdag 12 mei 2009

briefings and/of the future

"I came into this motherfucker a hundred grand strong
Nine to be exact, from grindin G-packs
Put this shit in motion ain't no rewindin me back
Could make 40 off a brick but one rhyme could beat that
And if somebody woulda told 'em that Hov' would sell clothin
Heh, not in this lifetime, wasn't in my right mind
That's another difference that's between me and them
Heh, I'm smarten up, open the market up
One million, two million, three million, four
In eighteen months, eighty million more "

What do you do when you sell drugs, but you figure out that your rhyming ability can earn you that much needed goal of money, cars, hoes* faster and safer? You start rhyming off course. Quite obvious really.

Now what do you do if your artform is laced with refferences with regards to luxury items, such as clothes, cars jewelry etc? Get endorsments by those? Mehh..could go that way aka the "tommy hilfigger is my nigga" namecheck strategy by Mobb Deep.

Or how about you start your own companies (RoccaWear, Roccafella Film, Roccafella records, Armadale Wodka to name a few) in one or more of the markets you are already are advertising for as a platform? Get some of that equity out of those acts of culture instead of a paycheck? Sounds more like it, right..

Well if it does sound more like it then why is it not more common?Why is Jay-z worth more than 200 million and Mobb Deep say, one or two million? Leaving aside issues of musical taste and talent, the revenue streams were there for both of them, yet one took full advantage and the other did not.

And the difference: Effectual reasoning.

Effectual reasoning is basically the mindstate of an entrepeneur. It asks the simple questions: What do I have of value?
Who am I?
Whom do I know?
Will I survive if this path fails me?

In other words it starts with the available means and the risk and works toward eliminating risk (thus gaining ways that work), instead of stating a problem and rewards and then working towards achieving those rewards.

Now why is this distinction important? It could inginite the industry again to become the force it was during the the 1960's and it is the writing on the wall for those who continue to hold on to the olden ways.

Couple of factors also make it the perfect time to stop and think about our way of working.

1) Abundance in the West
2) Growing importance of cultures and regions where abundance is not standard

Right now the tech advances are such that companies/citizens in the West can pretty much get all the supplies they need for free or at bargain prices. So the need to spot a gap in the market, which will always be important, is not the primary point of entry anymore. If most markets are without scarcity and work for free, you will need to be about more than product differentiation and pricing. You need to be about you. And this is good because?

Well everybody is banging on about authenticity, story, narrative, recession, budgets, monetization, accountability and the likes. And well, they are right. By looking inward at what you have build up in the last decades, at the resources at hand, you will find true differentiation in little acts of culture or in processes that are unique to you. Things that could help your customers within habits established, without it costing you a dime. Again I like to stress that it is not just about soft stuff, but also the hard stuff that you have under your noses. Change the point of view and they become assests.

Africa, Asia, Latin America. Powerhouses of the now to next. But also places where resources have been scarce. And will continue to be for some time. However because of the somewhat levelling playingfield via the web and globalisation, the culture of making the most with what you have and not being tide down to methods (because the only criteria you have is, does it work, as in does it feed me, give me shelter etc NOW) all of a sudden becomes a major business advantage.

You see just coming up with an goal idea and then trying to get it spread without any backend, is nice when you've got funding. When you have to fund yourself along the way, you learn the value of conversion and monetization. And who likes monetization? We all do, and clients the most.

(The next creative advertising revolution will come from the third world cultures, largely because their definition of creativity is different. It is creating something out of practically nothing, not getting bogged down in form exercises that serve no value, but that is a post for another time)

Taking these (out of many more ) factors in account, working from a viewpoint that allows for quick connections and affordable failure enables us to achieve more tangible results, hence not only making the adland industry gain that much needed Accountability tag, but it also allows us to slip in the social(ist)/2.0 principles the plannersphere has been wetting itself (me included) over, up to the C-level.

And doing it all while not costing the client any money. And that is important. Because reality is, fear still works. Fear of loss of face, job, prestige, budget etc works. Quite powerfully.

Right now it works to stop advances, because we can't convey the value down the line. But it could work in our advantage as we focus on taking away fears because we elimate the downside instead of trying to figure out the upside in advance.

Off course this is easier said then done, hiring practices will have to change at agencies, training has to change at agencies, compensation will have to change at agencies. But guess what..That will happen with you or without you.

Don't say I did not warn you. Smarten up, open the market up...

*lyrics by Notorious BIG