There are few people who could accuse me of being a complete Philistine. Those who do have one thing in common. They are all fans of the ballet. Now before I enrage those who love the ‘L’art de ballet’ let me say in my defence, I admire and indeed marvel at those artistic acrobats who manage to transverse the boards with such grace on their tippee toes. I just don’t understand why the organisers don’t get taller people in the first place; but I digress.
Ballet looks pretty simple to us ignoramuses who view the performance from the comfort of our seats and after the third interval and the obligatory chardonnay number three, it looks so easy I’m just about ready to jump up there and give it a go myself. That said I can’t imagine what the audience might think and that’s exactly why I don’t do it.
You see I know the problem. I understand it completely. I’ve had almost fifty years experiencing a similar feeling in my role as a marketing strategist. Like the unknowing ballet audience, the average business believe any idiot can market; any fool can germinate a great idea and massage it into a creative equivalent of a flora bunda. It looks simple, anyone can do it and some even try. For fifty years I haven’t complained. I know it’s human nature to under estimate the talent of others and like my inability to understand the lexicon of movements so finely honed by the Ballerina and Ballerinos, the majority of business people want to tell us marketers ‘how to dance!’
I’d like a dollar for every time a client has overruled my advice only to fall on their derrière and make a right Charlie out of themselves. I’m not saying clients can’t be right, but in the majority of cases they defy the disciplines of goodmarketing and when they do, they most usually come a gutser. It’s like dancing a ballet when you know sweet nothing about the skill. But they insist, persist and blow it. It’s sad, tragic not to put too fine a point on it, a waste of money.
Agencies like Jack in the box aren’t petulant or self serving. We offer solutions because they’re right for the needs of the client and the consumer. We don’t finesse around for our own satisfaction. We don’t challenge because we like to argue – it’s easier to agree than to challenge. We respect our client’s skills and we ask only that they respect ours.
Rationale is a very powerful thing. We apply it before we build any scoping strategy and we expect our client’s professionalism to demand the same of their ideas. “It just feels right”, isn’t a rationale, neither is “I like it better”, because the only person who matters is the consumer and their perceptions.
Business needs to understand the rare ability of marketers who understand the consumer, who study their behaviours. The men and women who empathise and deliver the messages which break through the clutter, who believe that less is more, who can walk in another person’s shoes, the story tellers, the dream weavers and the dream makers – those who read the play and understand the game. They are the imagineers, the innovators and they, like the ballerina make it all look so easy.
Finally, next time you need a new idea, start with a blank piece of paper, create something new, develop it, and then give the same task to an agency like Jack in the box. Look at the difference and you’ll soon find out why making something simple is really very complicated. Oh! And at the same time try a ‘Grand pas de deux’ and when you’ve returned from hospital you’ll recall you can’t dance the ballet either.