If you create something and let it sit long enough, it will ferment into a lesson for your future self.
At the end of 2021, we wrapped up our third season of Planner Parley, a podcast led by our Chief Strategy Officer, John Roberts, where we pick apart the brains of some of the brightest strategic thinkers in the marketing and advertising industry.
2021 was full of ups and downs and even sideways movement at times, but something we’ll take away is the candor and conversation we soaked up on Planner Parley. After taking the winter break to digest the bits and pieces from the season, we’ve surfaced a few nuggets of truth. Here they are:
1. Every Ad Unit Is a Stage
Episode 1. StratFest 2021: A Review of the Day and Why the Old Ways Will Win in the “New Normal” | See clip here
In episode 1 of season 3, Steve Kozel, Director of Strategy at OBP, compares ad units to how minstrels captivated their audience’s attention in medieval Europe. Between the 12th and 17th centuries, professional entertainers of any kind, including jugglers, acrobats, and storytellers, staged spectacles, guiding their audience from one production to the next.
This is no different than modern brand marketing. You can lead a customer through your funnel, delighting them with small, entertaining “shows” through every touchpoint. Or, you can focus on just one or two spectacles and offer enough value to capture more attention with less. Which approach makes sense for your audience?
2. Content Creators Understand Humor Just As Well As, If Not Better Than, Advertisers
Episode 2. The Art of Ugly in 2021 | See clip here
In episode 2 of season 3, Tim Leak, Chief Marketing & Innovation Officer at RPA, illuminates the truth about modern content. Metric data-tons of amateur videos are uploaded to the internet every day, a good portion of them funnier than the average Super Bowl commercial. But wait. Big-game commercials are essentially the Grammys for advertisers. So what’s happening here?
As marketers, we find it all too easy to siphon humanity from our projects through agency process, feedback loops, and strings of Google Docs comments. Content creators can soar past us on the racetrack, recording a video and sharing it with their audience in a matter of hours, and the results are often more entertaining.
As professionals, we can’t relax to the standards of a Hype House TikToker. But we can learn from the humor of influencers and find ways to incorporate it into our content plans. And generally not overthink what’s universally hilarious the next time we’re in a brainstorm.
3. B2B Is a Poor Excuse for Bad Marketing
Maggie Lower blew our minds during the third episode of season 3 by calling out marketers and clients for the lack of humanity in most B2B campaigns and spotlighting the growing field as an opportunity in 2022.
The line between business-to-consumer marketing and business-to-business marketing is growing thin. Companies like Upwork and Fiverr approach once snooze-worthy initiatives with open minds and courage. Regardless of what your company does, a human being will interact with and greenlight your work, even if the human is representing a business. What makes us human and connects us is universal regardless of the product or service. So take your lame excuse for creating lackluster work in your industry and place it in the paper shredder (if they still make those).
4. Your Marketing Briefs Need To Do Two Things: Direct and Inspire
Episode 4. Proof that the Client Brief Is Broken, and What We Can Do About It | See clip here
In episode 4 of season 3, Pieter-Paul von Weiler and Matt Davies shared their Better Briefs project findings, the first global and most significant study ever conducted on marketing briefs. After analyzing hundreds of briefs, it turns out that a successful brief is — you guessed it, “brief.”
In a short format, strategists need to do two things with their briefs:
1. Direct: Tell the creative team what the goals of a project and client are as clearly as possible.
2. Inspire: Get the creative team excited enough to develop their own solutions for the problem at hand. It’s a painstakingly simple lesson, one we overcomplicate with flowery language, boring formats, and buckets of information in the briefing process.
5. It’s Better To Tell Someone’s Story Well Than Try To Tell Everyone’s Story Badly
Episode 5. Feeling Seen: How Diversity in Advertising Drives Business | See clip here
We ended season 3 by interviewing Jon Evans, CMO at System1. In Jon’s report, Feeling Seen, he shared insights on how people feel when they see themselves in advertising. The ironic takeaway from a conversation primarily about diversity is the importance of exclusivity.
Many brands try to take an inclusive approach to every problem. Tick every box, target everyone, and include everyone. But when you do that, you end up not telling anyone’s story. An excellent visualization of this is the research conducted by Gilbert S. Danielson on increasing the safety of the U.S. Air Force. After recording measurements from thousands of airmen, Danielson discovered that the theoretical “average” wouldn’t fit any of them. This realization led to adjustable seats, foot pedals, helmet straps, and flight suits, an initiative that lowered the death rate significantly.
Feeling seen and heard requires specificity behind your storytelling. Think about each creative piece as a direct conversation with someone you know. Which considerations should you take into account, knowing their personality? How can you make them, specifically, feel welcome, seen, and safe?
What was your favorite nugget of truth from 2021?
If you missed out, it’s never too late to catch up on all the episodes of Planner Parley here.
We’re in the middle of cooking up insight-packed content for you in 2022. Stay tuned and make honest, courageous work this year.