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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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Check, check and check: Top April marketing trends we believe in (and see every day)

marketing-trends_BlogWe know what you’re thinking, “Oh, boy, another list!” But this one is good. Spotting trends in brand marketing is a bit of a crapshoot, and generally speaking, only a handful of so-called experts are able to point towards those that become ubiquitous. At Spyglass our clients range from education to healthcare, business travel to banking, law firms to innovative new medical products, and virtually across the board, certain trends have continued to remain important. Here are several that particularly resonate with us as we move into Q2 of 2016.

  1. First and foremost, every conversation needs to primarily be about your customer, not you. You need to listen more than you talk.
  2. Everyone at your organization must be a fluent brand ambassador.
  3. Marketing and sales have to be connected at the hip.
  4. Social media is rarely a strategy and mostly a channel.
  5. Marketing departments need to embrace big data.
  6. The mobile experience is now table stakes.
  7. Virtual reality is coming and you need to get ready for it.
  8. Relevant content is hard to produce, but essential.
  9. And finally, ever-increasingly, clients want to see data before, during, and after any campaign or new marketing effort because they want and deserve ROI.

 

OK, take a deep breath and read a more complete list here.

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March madness: Surprise marketing trends for 2016

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Spotting marketing trends before you launch your next big thing can give you a competitive advantage. You don’t have to bet your budget on these ideas, but they can help you position your game plan for Q2, Q3 and beyond. The CMO Club consolidated a few trends that kept popping up when they reviewed more than a handful of last year’s most prominent marketing guides.

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