Apologies for the recent silence but I’ve been busy trying to get my head around a new client.
This particular organisation and it’s challenges has required speedy generation one of those Planner’s To Do lists where the short term and long term To Dos are very similar, but the urgent stuff will have to be done based on gut instinct, while the medium term stuff has the luxury of giving me enough time to do some research and base decisions on actual proper insight.
It’s going to be very interesting seeing if my gut instinct is anywhere close to what the research turns up.
And all this short term vs. long term malarkey has got me thinking a lot about testing. Russell wrote a lot in 2007/8ish (particularly here and here) about being always in beta, a habit he says brands (and their agencies) have to get into in order to operate in this blurry, unpredictable world.
picture nicked from Russell’s blog, when it was Howies t-shirt of the week
Russell’s thinking was mainly around agile brands that keep pushing lots of new ideas out there and turn any mistakes into opportunities. I suppose it’s the ‘let’s try something on a bit of a small scale test and see if it works’ approach. But I think more old school testing, i.e. ‘did what we just did actually work and how could we do it better next time?’ still has a massive place too.
The world of DM has been happily testing and reviewing/evaulating format, creative and messaging for years and years in order to find the most effective mailer. And the online media lot have been giving good spreadsheet about what did and didn’t and might and mightn’t work ever since someone invented display ads. You’d also hope that media planners would be just as interested in what was working / might work hardest as what the black box media planning software said would be most effective.
But I’m not sure that cross specialism, multi-agency teams servicing a brand have sat down together often enough and rationally discussed what has and hasn’t worked in the past – and what might be worth having a go at in the near future.
With several agencies and freelancers all working on his brand, Mr Head New Client has recognised my bossy streak and put me in charge of all multiple-agency-client meetings. Getting the client team and all their agencies to sit down and talk about what has and hasn’t worked and what might be most likely to work in the future has already produced a surprising amount of honesty – and some ideas that might not have made it onto a traditional marketing plan, however short term or long term it was.
But this approach has also required me to regularly chip in to remind everyone that just because it didn’t work last time, we shouldn’t entirely discount it. Because the problem with something not working is that it’s very rare you discover exactly which element didn’t work and why. The only thing worse than no data is misleading data – and misleading data means missed opportunities.