Be the Change

To test and scale ideas faster, Spyglass developed the Brand Collaboratory™—a learning lab approach that involves key stakeholders in the creation of messages and materials. We firmly believe that “doing it together” and iterating quickly outperforms the old agency model. 

 

Are you moving through the day doing what you’ve always done—struggling with (or avoiding) the same persistent business or brand issues? Do you have a scattershot strategy, a mucked up PowerPoint or a story that just doesn’t sing?

Welcome to the club! The fact is, most of us aren’t optimizing our efforts and time. Which makes perfect sense, because individuals and organizations are actually hardwired to maintain the status quo, and we require certain conditions to make sustainable change, especially the big transformative kind.

At Spyglass, we have powerful processes to help our clients break out of their ruts and accelerate the adoption of new solutions—to generate the kind of meaningful results (and paradigm shifts) that so many businesses now require. Here are 3 key principles:

Ask better questions: In the old days, agencies like ours would receive a stated assignment or challenge from a client and begin brainstorming answers. Today, we start by asking new and better questions (an approach that spookily aligns with this meaty HBR Better Brainstorming article). For example, a recent assignment from a client was framed as a marketing communications project. A bit of deeper inquiry revealed that a trust- and relationship-building initiative was what was actually needed—and that’s what we proposed.

Get there faster: Too often it seems like the juiciest (and most differentiating) ideas get diluted and bogged down by the traditional research/review/approval process. To counteract that inertia, we’ve been deploying a new fast and focused Brand Collaboratory™ approach in order to rapidly iterate ideas to a point where they can be evaluated, tested and refined with real audiences sooner rather than later.

Do it together: Now, more than ever, we believe it’s time to reach beyond the marketing department to engage diverse stakeholders more meaningfully in the creative process—both to ensure relevance and build trust. A more collaborative process increases internal enthusiasm, belief and buy-in, which is essential to the adoption of an impactful, market-relevant and potentially game-changing story.

This part is critical, because companies are often structurally resistant to doing (and saying) things in new ways. According to innovation consultant Stefan Lindegaard:Change is frightening to many elements inside the typical organization. Change threatens people’s power, their status, their egos, and, in some situations, even their jobs. Change can make someone’s expertise obsolete and thereby make them obsolete as well. Because people are afraid of change, innovation efforts often cause the eruption of corporate antibodies that fight to kill innovation and maintain the status quo.”

Maybe you’re not trying to reinvent the wheel (or your category) but simply need some fresh eyes and juice to jumpstart your marketing. Let’s get started!

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Brainstorming: Yay or Nay?

The old axiom claims that there are no bad ideas… but anyone who’s been in a brainstorming session knows that’s just not true. Since cavemen first sketched on walls, humans have been capturing concepts and exploring possibilities on vertical surfaces.

Certainly in creative agencies, brainstorming is a time-tested way to generate new solutions to thorny problems. Yet as a discipline, it’s typically undisciplined at best.

“Brainstorming is Worthless,” provocatively proclaims a recent article in Inc. “What a brainstorm session should be is a place to challenge the ideas that have already been vetted,” rants author Nicolas Cole. “Not a free-for-all breakout session where anything and everything goes.” Cole thinks it’s a waste of time to have a group noodling together and tossing out whatever ideas happen to flow. Instead he advocates a process whereby each team member has done their own generative thinking and comes to the table with winnowed-down directions they are ready to defend.

Meanwhile, over in the Harvard Business Review, Hal Gregersen takes a thoughtful (long) view on different protocols and processes and advocates a “better brainstorming” approach that he claims yields the most fruitful futures. Interestingly, over 20 years of practice, he has observed that “the people least likely to engage in the exercise and follow the rules are the folks with the highest positions or greatest technical expertise… who cripple the truth-seeking capability of the entire group.” He emphasizes the importance of organizational culture in creating environments conducive to truly meaningful brainstorming. “Leaders must show humility, vulnerability and trust, and they must empower others and treat them equitably.” Sounds like a recipe for all kinds of transformation and growth!

Here at Spyglass, we’re evolving our collaborative creative process (see our Be the Change post) and have experienced the direct benefits of using a more structured, inclusive and nimble approach. We’d love to show you.

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Transform Your Morning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you up with the sun or a reluctant riser? Do you meditate, make to-do lists or chug coffee on the run? In many ways, how we start our mornings sets the tone for what’s to come in the days (and years!) that follow. Such is the premise behind “My Morning Routine: How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired,” a new book by authors Benjamin Spall and Michael Xander, who interviewed 300 highly successful people about their morning routines.

We ordered the book, but haven’t received it yet, so we took the liberty of asking a few people around the agency about their morning routines and heard this:

“I set aside my phone and watch the news while I’m drinking my coffee. It helps ground me in what’s going on in the world and gives me a bigger perspective.”

“On most days I go for a run. Sometimes it’s just racing to the bus stop with a forgotten backpack or lunchbox. But that’s something, right?”

“I take a shower and think about all the stuff I want to wash away… worries, disappointments, mistakes. It helps me start the day fresh and leave yesterday behind.”

“I’d like to say I meditate, but it’s more like I’m just staring straight ahead mindlessly while I’m waiting for the caffeine to kick in.”

Not exactly the breakfast of champions, perhaps, but maybe once we get the book, our habits can improve. Here’s hoping!

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Why Most Businesses are Dropping the Ball in Content Marketing

What you don’t know may hurt you. Yeah, you’ve heard that one before. But if you’re serious about capturing customers via the web, you may want to take a minute to think about where you could be hitting a home run or two. This wonky little analysis speaks to a simple impending truth: most businesses aren’t doing enough with content marketing. And by enough, I mean pretty much an epic fail. Don’t despair. There are so many quick wins you could be achieving that don’t cost an arm a leg or an act of God. Simple stuff that will boost you out of the Google search basement and onto the collective consciousness of the people who want—dare I say, long—to find you, but just can’t.

Here’s the Business 2 Community article I’m talking about. The love of your business life is out there, but you are nowhere to be found. And you’d hate to miss out on destiny just because you’re not even in the conversation, right?

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Carpe Blogem

“The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.”
– David Ogilvy

I know what you’re thinking. Easier said than done – especially if you’ve read virtually any other business blog. You know it’s true. Most business brilliance being foisted online is boring and more regurgitated than breakfast for 10 from a mother Blue-Footed Booby. That’s a bird listed early in a Wikipedia article about regurgitation.

Being original isn’t easy. Let alone interesting. A blog about business, even a business as fast-paced, smart, sassy and sexy as the world of advertising, gets boring fast. You’re probably ready to quit reading this now. Hang on. All I’m saying is, making this blog worth a damn and not the typical advertising blog like the one’s you’ll find on (list omitted to protect almost everyone) will take a lot of Google linking, clever cookies—and a heck of lot more than a few cans of Coke, a couple bags of Doritos or shots of Patron. It’s going to take clever content and some damn good insights that you have yet to come across. Mind-blowing stuff. Revolutionary ideas. Einstein, rocket science, South Park, New England Journal of Medicine type of thing. Breakthroughs and solid thinking. Stuff that anyone who pulls their pants on one leg at a time and makes other people fabulously successful would think of on topics like branding and creative, social media and mobile, customer engagement, B2B, digital marketing. Anyway. Trust me. We’re working on it. We think we know a guy. Great sense of humor. But kind of a loose cannon.

 

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