30 May 2017

Only fools rush in …

By Paul Hertz

Change is not an option. It’s the condition. The world is not changing. It has changed. The clichés line up and we all run a little faster to try to keep up. The marketing world has always been said to move fast. To change with the times. To foresee change, even. It’s part of the thrill of what we do. 

The ride is as thrilling as it is dangerous. Too many decisions are taken at 100 mph which affects the solutions and ideas that are results of our efforts (lucky that we are not brain surgeons …). 

Stop doing, start thinking 

One of the biggest threats to great ideas is not overthinking. It is not thinking before you hit the pedal. We often work under tight deadlines. We are used to performing under pressure. That too is part of what we love. 

Rushing to the idea phase might seem like the best way to meet a tight deadline. If we skip all the time consuming analysis, de-briefing, researching and thinking we get to the finish line faster, right? 

Wrong! Most often that’s exactly when we end up having to rewind all the way and come up with another idea. And another. When we do not have time to think, define the task and align, the ideas and solutions end up being built on a weak or even false foundation. 

Start things right 

There are no bullet proof ways to start a new project. Every project is different and every client has their way of working and we adjust our way of approaching a new project accordingly. That being said there are a number of things we know make a difference when we kick off a project.

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1. Get to know each other

Getting to know each other is crucial. It is surprising how many mistakes can be put down to simple miscommunication. The best way to avoid mistakes is by making sure you know the people you work with – a truth that goes for both agency and client. 

Getting a feeling of who you are working with, what the internal language is, what conventions dominate often mean the world to nailing a project. So make room in the calendar to spend a day together. Talk about your business, your sales channels, your way of working, your challenges, your hobbies, yourselves and everything else that pops up. 

2. Dive in deep 

Taking time to dive into the task at hand is another crucial step to finding the right idea. Yes, the world is digital, always in beta and nothing is set in stone anymore. The best way to solve an assignment is still to bury yourself in it. 

The more you know about the client, the market, the audience and the project, the deeper your understanding becomes and the better your ideas will be. They may not be as funny or quirky as the first ideas you came up with. But does that really matter if they are right for solving the task? So dive in head first. And dive in deep. 

3. Don’t fear the detours 

Even when you do everything by the book – get a brief, make a de-brief, do halfway meetings etc. – you might not hit the nail on the head. Sometimes it just takes more than one shot to get it right.

Being a little off is not necessarily a bad thing or the sign of a poor client-agency relationship. Detours are a natural part of the creative process. A necessary part, even. When both parties do their homework, know and understand the rationale behind the idea and have an open, honest and constructive communication about what works and what does not the detours usually make the final idea stronger. It’s better to be fearless, than trying to be flawless. 

So allow yourselves to make detours. Take time to stray from the path. And use it to have an honest discussion about what is right for the project. 

Falling in love is easy. The rest takes time. Only fools rush in …
The key to getting great ideas that are also right for the brand and project is:
– To make sure you speak the same language
– To allow yourself to define and perhaps redefine the task
– To be ready to take chances, break conventions and try again