What inspires the really big ideas in your organization?
Nothing throws an entire agency team into creative overdrive more than when a client says, “We want to go big! We want to be bold! We’re going to OWN THE CATEGORY!”
To our ears, that sounds like: Game On.
Account people get excited because they know they will be heroes when they deliver this great news to the team back at the agency. Planners are thrilled because they can be more provocative and courageous in the way they guide the work. And for the creatives, of course, this means no holds barred. All the knobs are full-right and toggles in the up position. Let the ideas flow.
It’s actually much more difficult to concept a more conservative approach. It can at times be akin to working with one creative hand tied behind your back when there is a strict set of directives to conform to. That’s not to say that effective and memorable conservative work can’t be done, mind you, only that it narrows the possibilities and will likely disappear among the noise.
With today’s information onslaught bombarding consumers and business decision-makers alike, big and bold make more sense than ever. For any marketing campaign to be visible, let alone interesting to its audience, it needs to break through and be relevant. Whether you’re trying to raise awareness, change perceptions, generate qualified leads or all of the above, getting the attention of an audience who frankly just can’t be bothered demands new thinking.
A sea of advertising sameness makes it way too easy for people to skip the message without skipping a beat.
Big and Bold are harder than they look.
I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) that when a company declares “Now is the time!” the first challenge to truly understand is its cultural and organizational definition of Big and Bold. More than once, after weeks of planning, concepting and preparation for some truly break-through work, I’ve presented to a client who sat with a look of shock and horror on her face. Too Big? Too Bold? Needless to say, it’s not the reaction we hope for.
Turns out their definition of Big and Bold was a little different to ours. They were willing to change the accent color from red to blue, or maybe green if we pushed them.
Another challenge with Big and Bold is the capacity of the rest of the organization to live up to the hype. I’ve seen marketers enthusiastically encourage revolutionary strategies and iconic work only to have the executive team rein it in because the rest of the organization isn’t quite ready to deliver on the promise.
Big and Bold does work, though, and when the stars are aligned, good things can happen. While presenting some Bold work several months ago, our client interrupted to say, “This is so damned crazy.” And before I could respond, added, “It might just work!.”
And it did. The company is up double digits in unit volume and even more in revenue. But equally important is that while the competition played it safe, our client has created a new following of loyal advocates. And excited the entire organization along the way.
Big and Bold are the twin imperatives of marketing to an always-on society. Naturally they’re defined and executed differently depending on industry, segment and corporate culture, but the willingness to accept risk and embrace change are the constants.
How are Big and Bold defined in your business and what brands do you see taking the leap?
by Adryanna Sutherland
President – Cincinnati
Cross-posted at Ignite Something on the Forbes CMO Network