One of the problems some people encounter in business as they get more experienced is the fallacy that they have to know everything. When you start to think you already have the answers before anyone asks any questions you are dead in the water.
Curiosity didn't kill the cat - that's a parable from a time when unthinking allegiance to your master was the norm and change happened over generations, not over a flat white.
If you are going to have good idea you have to wonder why people do things. Why do certain things get done the way they do? There are no stupid questions - but blind faith in what you are doing now is stupid behaviour.
Look at what is happening in your industry - what are the general trends? What is happening in areas that don't even seem related? Making connections between seemingly unrelated things is the essence of creating new things. Pull things apart. Put them together in different ways. I used to teach design research methods at Massey University's School of Design. The most important discipline designers (and anyone for that matter) has to be curiousity. Avoid orthodoxy. It's all research – and the point of research isn't to prove a truth - it's to discover more interesting questions.
Know your audience.
Sitting in your office staring at your degree - or surfing the internet isn't going to stoke the fires of passion. Get out there amongst the people you will be communicating with. Learn their issues and listen to their language. I guarantee that the messages in your communications about the products you are advocating for will seem a whole lot less like 'persuasion' and a heck of a lot more like common sense coming from a like mind. Factory tours can be interesting too. It's amazing the stories you will hear from employees who've been with the company for 25 years. It might be the marketing guy who got recruited from another marketing company just hasn't had the time to learn the company while he gets his resumé ready for the next marketing company he's angling to work for. And don't forget the people who use the product. If you let the market researchers speak for them you might miss some nuance. Even in the era of metadata an insight can come from a single observation. A little bit of anthropology can go a long way.
In the Korean War* jet fighter pilots had to figure out how to shoot each other down. The propulsion technology had rocketed ahead of other systems on the aircraft. So hurtling through the air at twice the speed while trying to aim cannon and rockets at the enemy with tools that were not much better than World War 2's kit mean pilots had to think a different way. They had to be far more decisive. They came up with the O.O.D.A Loop –Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. The person who could put everything together systematically the quickest got to fly home alive.
Choosing your target, positioning yourself to take the advantage and acting decisively will make a huge difference. Choosing your mission is important too. MacGregor Media doesn't tout for grand strategic partnerships with global brands. We're Good. Fast. Cheap (pick any three). You can't be all things to all people.
Focus - that's what strategy is all about.
*Ever see M.A.S.H.? - Hotlips, Radar O'Reilly, Hawkeye, Klinger…that was the Korean War.
Be The One & Only
Gerry Garcia from the rock band The Grateful Dead said something long the lines of 'Don't be the best at what you do - be the only one who does it.' I think that sums authenticity up pretty well. If you are interchangeable then your customers will shop around for what you do at a cheaper price. A client recently told me that they wanted to be like Apple. Not Apple in the beginning. Apple now. Audacious but lacking in ambition. As I'm lobbing quotes around here's another - the source is a magazine I was flipping through, maybe Vanity Fair, to be fair I don't remember: "If you want to be like Kate Moss…be yourself." Think about it.
This blog is a notepad of contemporaneous and sometimes extemporaneous thoughts about creativity, strategy and ideas.