Mad Men’s final scene sees Don Draper sitting in the lotus position on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic, taking part in a group mediation with a mile wide smile on his face. The final edit of the series weaves the proclamations of the yoga guru in with the iconic “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” ad.
Anyone working within the creative industries will know that Draper smile. It visits you when you hit that Eureka moment and strike on a big creative idea. An idea that you know will work, engage an audience and drive a business forward.
Great ideas have been hallmark of consumer campaigns forever. As consumers, we all have our favourite ads – the ones we talk about and share. Effective consumer marketers understand how a great idea can work for you. They know that if you can strike the right chord, you’ll have an engaged audience eating out of the palm of your hand.
But too many in the B2B world just don’t ‘get’ this. Despite saying they want to engage their audiences, they fail to even try. For years, B2B marketers have made all the right noises about not being boring only to take the lazy way out, retreating into press releases that drone endlessly on about version 5.5c, enhanced functionality and new GUIs. Too often it’s what clients expect and think they want – meaning the approach has stuck around well beyond its sell-by date.
We’ve always strived to take a different approach… even when it means dragging our clients along with us. We have aimed to engender a real ‘newsroom buzz’, to focus our people on creating compelling stories for clients, recognising that coverage is only the battle. It’s what that coverage says and how a client’s thinking can be found that wins the engagement war. Thought leadership, storytelling and content marketing are all very well, but it “don’t mean a thing if ain’t got no swing”. Whatever the channel or marketing activity, you’re buggered if it’s boring and no-one gives a damn. That’s what engagement is all about. It’s how hearts and minds are won, how business prospects are turned into leads, and how brands achieve dominance in niche markets.
Great authors talk about writing for the reader. And the same rule applies to ideas. What will engage prospects in our key sectors of financial services, energy, business technology and engineering? What’s the creative concept that is going to draw them in, pull them through an article on fund oversight, get them to share a visual on regulatory change, make business process management technology important to them or differentiate one component from another?
In the B2B world a big idea – a strong creative concept that engages our clients’ markets – earns them the right to be read, listened to and for their clever thinking to be shared.
When I talk about what we do I say “At the start of the week we have a blank sheet of paper. By the end of the week we have turned that sheet of paper into an idea that is worth something. We can sell it to a client because it adds value to their business and helps them engage their audience.” What could be a better job than marshalling all the skill and creativity of a brilliant team to deliver a concrete business outcome?
And for us the best thing about it is the mile wide smile when it works. If only I looked like Don Draper…