Have you heard the story about the woman who trimmed the ends of her pot roast before she put it in the pan?
One day, her older sister was watched her do this, and asked, "Why do you trim the ends of your pot roast before putting it in the pan?" "Because that's how mom did it," the sister responded.
"True," the older sister said, "but mom's pan was too small."
The advertising industry is in exactly this position right now. We do things because "that's the way we've always done them." We have a process and a vocabulary which served us well in a different time. We talk of "Big Ideas" and "Creatives" and "Mass Mediums." Advertising, as we knew it, was certainly the best we could do with the tools we had at the time.
But what happens when the big idea is a small one, the experience is just as important as the message the channels are many and distributed? Today we can create true interactive experiences and dialogs. It's a far better way to engage with people than shouting at them and hoping they'll listen.
So why, I wonder, do we hold onto antiquated processes and vocabularies when we have so much more to work with?
My best guess is two fold. First, change is hard. And second, we can't see the opportunity. But let's for a moment, assume that change is possible. How would we do things better? Here are three simple suggestions to get started:
1. Expand your vocabulary
If you talk in terms of the "big idea" and "creative briefs," think about learning a few new words. For example: experience brief, semantic web, interaction design, wire frames, user experience, meta-data. Do you know what those mean? If not, you should. These word are your future.
2. Be collaborative
Let go of the idea that the creatives own creative. (In fact let go of the idea of creative, see point 3). The digital medium, by nature, is more collaborative, and the process should be too. Who’s in your brainstorms? If it’s just art directors and copywriters think about inviting a diversity of team members to the table. The process needs to change for the output to change.
3. Embrace the experience
The consumer experience must go beyond the traditional messaging strategy. How do you create experiences? Start by hiring a team of sharp information architects, content strategists and analysts, and integrate them well. Add to that designers and copywriters. Voila, you have an Experience Group. Creative is simply a subset of experience, albeit a vital one.
I just joined a great advertising agency in Seattle called WONGDOODY. While they are rooted in traditional, they are smart, open-minded and collaborative, and because of that, we are making phenomenal strides in the digital space. I'll keep you updated on our work.
In the mean time, be well, ask questions, and push the status quo. We all can do so much better. We just need to be open to the possibilities.