In the past few years I’ve come across quite a few aspiring planners (of all ages) and ‘I’m strong strategically’ senior agency people who seem to be under the impression that the only place that strategic thinking can possibly come from is the pages of a book. You know the ones, they have 50+ marketing books stacked up behind their desk and are constantly dropping authors and their theories into conversation.
The thing is, a strategic approach that is supposed to differentiate a brand or the brand’s campaign from its competitor set isn’t actually going to be that differentiated if you’re just rehashing or simply regurgitating someone else’s widely-published insight and approach.
We’re trying to solve the brand’s problem through the lens of a truth/nugget/insight and great insight comes from using our own instincts to weave together observation, data, research (of all kinds), our personal experience of the brand/market/target audience/problem and, sometimes, using someone else’s thinking as a springboard or proof of concept.
There’s nothing wrong with using existing frameworks to guide your insight-hunting, especially if you’re relatively inexperienced, but it’s when ONLY other people’s thinking makes it to the strategy deck that that’s a problem. Why should the client pay thousands for something they could have ordered from Amazon overnight?
And there is absolutely nothing wrong with reading what the best and brightest minds in the industry have to say and learning from it – but if you’re only rehashing other people’s work, however famous they are, that’s not strategy, that’s a book review.