In my last post, I recommended that strategy teams spend 10% of their time–uncompensated by the client–looking for challenges that most marketers don’t even know exist. I call this concept “zombie time” as a nod to the book and movie “World War Z,” in which we learn that Israel anticipated the zombie apocalypse because they routinely assigned intelligence analysts to imagine the unimaginable.
When we set out to solve marketing problems, we often try modeling, as in “how would another brand solve the problem?” More often than not, I think we use sexy brands–Apple, Nike, Starbucks and so forth–because they usually get their marketing right.
However, I suggest that you stop thinking about what’s sexy. After all, most marketers don’t have the resources of these brands nor can they always take the big risks that those brands have taken.
So, instead of sex, try toilets.
As in, ask yourself, “what would we do if we were trying to sell toilets instead of our brand/product?” Turning your strategy exercise into an exercise of selling toilets has three key advantages:
You see it coming a mile away: the solution to your client’s problem. The answer seems to simple that you imagine yourself yanking a Whitman’s Sampler from a newborn. After listening to your client completely, you lay out your solution with clarity, specificity and proof of past success.
OK, now what? What do you do when your client says “that’s not how things work around here?”
For years, I had a standard answer for this problem. The answer involved probing for weaknesses looking for opportunities to nudge in whatever idea I thought would solve their problem. Surely, my sterling logic would prevail sooner or later! Thing is, it didn’t work.
After multiple attempts at bashing down the figurative door, I realized that a client saying “that’s not how things work around here” is really telling you two things: