“Think like a CFO.”
“How can planners raise the bar?” .
My response was directed at planners but I think it might be useful to anyone involved in brand building.
Many agencies talk a good game about striving to understand their client’s business.
But I often hear this question phrased as you have to think about “what’s keeping the CMO up at night?”
Well with all due respect to CMO’s, I don’t think it’s their beauty rest that counts the most.
I think a more relevant question, especially now, is “what’s keeping the CFO up?” Or perhaps the head of operations, or sales.
I didn’t always have this point of view.
When I was on the Agency side, I thought our primary focus should be on bringing the voice of the consumer to the table.
To, in a sense, rise above the commercial realities and restrictions and bring fresh, aspirational, dare I say “untainted” thinking to the table.
The ideas would have plenty time later in the process to be turned and twisted to fit the “real world” requirements.
What’s changed? Well, now I’m the client.
Now I am part of the team charged with not only blue skying, but actually implementing, these ideas.
And it’s really difficult.
And the sooner the “details” of operational viability are worked out, the better.
I will give you a purely hypothetical example to illustrate my point.
Imagine during a meeting on a creating a new hospitality experience an idea is brought to the table to include a concierge on every floor, thus offering guests a new level of attention.
Great idea. Distinctive and builds on the brand’s reputation for brilliant customer service.
Definitely rooted in a consumer insight about hotels feeling impersonal.
But here’s the problem, it’s totally ignorant of any operational reality.
This idea has just added (maybe doubled) staff headcount. How is this cost offset?
Double the room rate? Perhaps but not very consistent with the brand’s focus on good value for money.
Reduce staff elsewhere?
Perhaps there is some accompanying innovative thinking that makes this possible.
But has it also been thought through and presented at the same time as the “floor concierge” was brought to the table?
Idea people (whether Agency or internal) will have more impact and credibility if they become better at thinking through the commercial implications of insights.
Agencies that can combine creative and operational thinking will be the most valued partners in the new economy.
Making this part of your training and process will reap many rewards.
You will earn more credibility with clients, they will treat you more like the valued partner you aspire to be and a great percentage of your ideas will get to market- instead of living solely as pretty pictures in a power point presentation.
I’m not saying that all planners need to get degrees in operations managment.
If you don’t have the right people on the team then bring in some collaborative expertise.
One of the upsides of the down economy is there are plenty of industry experts (in every industry) who are available for hire on project work.
Maybe your already doing this. If so, good for you.
Perhaps focus on doing it more often, earlier, or with more rigor.
But from the reactions I saw last night at the panel discussion, I think there is still perhaps more room for “commercial creativity” in the innovation process.
I’ve come to the point of view that the difference between insight/ideas and real innovation is that the latter is defined by adding real value.
And who doesn’t want some of that?
That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?
Are you consistently running ideas through the operations filter?