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Raging Against The Machine: A Manifesto For Challenging Wind Tunnel Marketing

16th September 10

Posted by Mel Exon

Posted in Brands, Insight

Author: Jim Carroll, Chairman, BBH London

This is the second of a two-parter by Jim. For the introduction to Wind Tunnel Marketing, check out his earlier post here or read both pieces in today’s Campaign magazine (available on campaignlive.co.uk next week). As always, we’d like to know what you think – please share any thoughts in the comments.

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1. Seek Difference In Everything We Do

“Is it different?” has been relegated to the last question, the afterthought, the bonus ball.  But the last should be first.

We should tirelessly seek difference in the people we talk to, the questions we ask, the processes we follow. “Is it different?” should be the first question we ask when we look at work  – both in terms of content and form.

2. Kick Out the Norms

We’ve become addicted to backward looking averages. But norms create a magnetic pull towards the conventional. Norms produce normal.  The new frontier doesn’t have norms, but it does have endless supplies of data, and a rich diversity of tools with which to mine it.

We should create a data-inspired future, not a norm-constrained past.

3. Only Talk to Consumers who are Predisposed to Change

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Where there is change, there are people that lead and people that follow.  In research we mostly talk to followers, because there are more of them and they’re cheaper. But ultimately they are less valuable.

If we’re seeking to change markets, shouldn’t we talk exclusively to change makers?

4. Embrace Insights From Anywhere

We’ve lived for too long under the tyranny of consumer insight. Of course consumer insight can be engaging, but it can also be familiar.

Surely insights can come from anywhere and we’re just as likely to find different insights from an analysis of the brand, the category, the competition, the channel, and, above all, the task.

5. Don’t Iron Out All the Creases

The Wind Tunnel abhors rough edges.  It likes to smooth over, iron out, edit away.  But people are drawn to the irregular and eccentric.

Let’s treasure, protect and nurture the happy accident, the illogical flaw.

6. Test in the Market, Not in the Test Tube

We have known for years that the optimal way to deal with complex communication needs in a fast moving, volatile market is to test in beta.  The gamers know it and the retailers knew it before them. Now all markets are fast moving and volatile.

Let’s learn from and with the market.

7. Practice Foresight

We’ve become too accustomed to considering the world as it is now.  We need more often to be considering the possible worlds of the future.

Let’s lift our eyes to the horizon.

8. Learn to Love Risk

The Wind Tunnel is risk averse.  We have come to consider risk as something to be feared, minimised, eradicated. But risk is integral to innovation and change.  It’s integral in fact to success.

We need to learn to feel comfortable with risk again, to calibrate it, to embrace it.

9. Value Expertise, Value Inexperience

Our risk aversion has led us to overvaluing category experience and undervaluing communication expertise. But an excess of experience predisposes to the tried and tested.  Relevant difference occurs at the intersection between expert judgement and naïve enthusiasm.

Let’s listen again to the experts, whilst opening the process up to the inexperienced.

10. Hurry Up

For many years Agencies have argued that they need more time to protect quality.  But too much time compromises quality because it creates room for caveats, committees and complacency. And we’re often late before we’ve arrived.

Speed can be liberating, exciting, invigorating. Come on. Let’s go……


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