Friday, November 09, 2007

AGENCIES: Are You Filling Prescriptions or Curing What Ails?

I like Mark Brownstein's question at Advertising Age Magazine's Small Agency Diary. Though many left comments as to the importance of diagnosing client problems and responding with appropriate strategies and ideas, no one said anything about how to do it. Try this!

Calle & Company's ASSAYS® are innovative consumer-creation learning circles not based on asking questions. ASSAYS provide your consumer groups with 10,000 incredibly comprehensive, highly creative, and consumer-appealing product-based thought-leadership selling solutions instead. Taking yourself and the yoke of your company's belief systems out of the loop - clean sheets of paper are the order of the day here. You become the blank slate on which consumers create, invent and indelibly etch their new impressions and perceptions - massive foresight enables you to articulate what consumers really want before normal humans, a focus group moderator, or anyone else can articulate the need.

Why do we NOT base "KNOWLEDGE CREATION" for greater strategies and ideas on questions?

1) Question-based marketing knowledge is full of pitfalls and poor traditions.

2) As Atticus Finch says in To Kill A Mockingbird, "You can't ask a question you don't already know the answer to" which is why research so often only confirms what we already know.

3) When you ask consumers questions, you don't get the "voice of the consumer," you get the "voice of the inquirer" through the question being asked - a form of bias that will lead you astray.
4) When asking questions you get answers about things that have already happened. By default, your strategy and execution will be a day late and a pound short. You will be caught reacting, not proacting.
5) When asking questions ask, "Where did the consumers you are talking to come from?" In focus groups, the majority of respondents are "database" consumers - paid professionals who, though screened, supplement their income with market research. If you are gathering any/all other data from consumers remember that without additional provided mental stimuli, they are unable to respond beyond the scope of their personal experience. This results in the saying, "The problem with advertising today is that advertising has fallen to the level of the people who watch it, which is why we click or surf through it."

6) All other "ideation" processes are offshoots of large quantitative research companies such as AcuPoll or BASES. Hiring them is like hiring the fox to watch the chicken coup. But, the interesting fact is, that in spite of all the business they get in the consumer packaged goods industry - the largest consumer of this sort of thing - client's revenues remain flat, with executives wondering where their growth will come from. So I guess we still have not found the consumer-source for bigger, better ideas.

Interesting? More interesting still is that most agencies do no homework at all and just shoot from the hip and their own personal experience - just like consumers described above. So who named you KNOWLEDGE ALMIGHTY? I learned long ago not to inject any of myself into a client's strategy or process. I let consumers shoulder the whole load and more results ended up in Annual Reports and Cannes reels be the client Gold Bond Powder or Procter & Gamble.
Do some homework! For more information about ASSAYS contact Calle & Company at

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