Contagious ideas and a connections ecosystem

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Contagious ideas and a connections ecosystem: IPA Campaign Planning Sydney highlights days two and three

Friday, 31 March 2017

Day two and three of IPA Campaign Planning Sydney highlighted not only the importance of ideas, but uncovering the connection points that enable ideas to spread - and ultimately build powerful, successful brands.

Course chair and UM Australia chief strategy officer Sophie Price began by articulating the different roles creative and media agencies play in idea development and distribution to create impactful campaigns.

“Creative agencies create the contagious idea and media agencies create the connections ecosystem that spreads the idea through culture, people and communities,” Price explained in her session, “Campaign Architecture”.

“It is critical that the creative agency and the media agency work hand in hand. Campaign architecture cannot be developed in a vacuum.”

Her tips?  Explore whether the core idea is spreadable. Ask what connection points we use to spread the idea and work out how they connect. Is there a story arc to the idea? Is there a strong path to purchase? Is the approach top down or bottom up to influence first? Is the campaign executed in bursts or is it always on?

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Ideas - precious, amazing and magnetic

M&C Saatchi Australia chief strategy officer Justin Graham took the conversation to the next level in his session, “The Changing Nature of Ideas”.

“Advertising is all about ideas. Ideas are precious and amazing and magnetic - and you have to love them and carry them through,” Graham told delegates.

However he put forward that the industry should “stop thinking of ideas from an advertising perspective, but with more of a business lens”, citing the Amazon Dash buttons. He also cited the Theodore Levitt quote, “People don’t want a quarter inch drill, they want a quarter inch hole.”

According to One Green Bean CEO Carl Ratcliff, the best ideas in the world have earned media at their heart. What does ‘earned’ really mean?  When customers, the press and the public share your content, speak about your brand - and your mentions are earned.

74% of brands don’t matter, he told the audience in his session, “The Role of Earned Media in Integrated Planning,” but then 26% do - so how do you become one of the 26%?

Ratcliff cited marketing and effectiveness experts Les Binet and Peter Field with the formula “brand fame = business profit”, highlighting that news underpins brand fame - and that stories drive news. But the definition of a story? Salient, True, Original, Relevant and You (do you find it interesting).

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Storytelling makes stronger brands

When it comes to telling stories, brands need to be bold, asserted Emotive Content founder and CEO, Simon Joyce in his session, “Shifting Clients to an ‘Always On’ Mentality”.

To build an ‘always on’ approach, a shift in thinking is required to think like a publisher and create audience-centric programs, not campaigns. Joyce urged delegates to ask,  “What is the story we are trying to tell over the year?  How do all the pieces in the puzzle fit together to make each other more meaningful and stronger for the brand?”

Challenges brands and agencies may face, Joyce warned include the ability to define a long term content strategy and consistently execute; practicalities such as resourcing, workflow and budgets, and fragmented ownership of the brand story in the organisation.

Joyce offered nuggets of advice to overcome these, such as preparing an ‘always on’ business case to engage senior leaders, aligning with strategic partners to access data and insight, create a workflow system, and ensure the amplification plan is created in unison with the content strategy.

Emotional experiences

But to turn a brand story across multiple touch points into a coherent journey with a brand requires us to focus on the element that defines people’s experiences: emotion, stated GTB Australia head of strategy Anuj Mehra.

In his session “Best Practice IMC: Integrating Responses Rather Than Messages”, Mehra urged delegates to think about what their consumers buy compared with what their clients make and sell - and to think about emotion by channel rather than message by channel.

And he said delegates should ask what they want the audience to feel and why, and what are they going to do to make them feel that way?

Data, innovation and collaboration

How should they achieve this? Get close to the customers - or die, stressed AnalogFolk strategy partner Ben Hourahine in his session “Responsive and Agile Planning”. He also suggested that delegates should use data to fuel strategic development (or someone else will), to take genuine innovation seriously (or become redundant) and drive innovation from true business problems.

Hourahine also stated that briefs should be made to work for the work, or they should be killed. “Briefs are no longer a piece of paper,” he said. “Instead, it’s about creative collaboration, an innovation-led process that does not necessarily lead to communications work as there is a problem definition, then exploration phase.”

Michelle Katz,  former Optus director brand and communications, elaborated further on “The Increasing Importance of Collaboration”. She underlined the need for mutual respect and trust with defined “swim lanes”, shared KPI’s and accretive ideas.

“The more you show you are results orientated, the more respect you will get from the client,” she said.

Utility over ubiquity

The last session of the residential course saw Naked Communications strategy director and co-founder, Good for Nothing, Sydney, Craig Adams discuss “Advertising by Design: Rethinking How We Do What We Do with UXD.”

Adams’ main learnings? Empathise, re-balance the value equation, and validate your assumptions.

“Make your projects personal. Strip yourself of preconceptions and go out to meet the people you’re looking to affect and influence. Talk to them, observe them, spend time with them, and take your client,” he said.

“This will be your single biggest source of advantage over your competitors, and other agencies. And we’re not talking about 100 people; by speaking to nine people you will walk away with richer insights, feel more emotionally invested in the project and undoubtedly get to a better place.”

He advised delegates to think about creating utility over ubiquity, ensuring that what they have to offer is going to help consumers accomplish tasks and jobs.

He also suggested delegates should rely less on instinct, and let actual human behaviour make decisions by designing lightweight experiments.

He said: “Be nimble with time and money, and look for ways to test whether your insights, ideas, concepts, initiatives are true of enough people to make them viable and worth further investment. Not only will you learn a lot, it will give your clients cast-iron confidence in both you and the work.”

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Pitching for STEM

The three day course culminated in delegates presenting a consumer engagement strategy for STEM Network, to increase awareness and adoption of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education and career pathways.

Judges praised the winning team, ‘The Londoners’ - Sarah Mckelvie of Hidden Characters, Marshall Campbell of TKT Sydney and Carolina Hognabba of The Core Agency - for their clarity in defining the problem, bringing the insight and strategy together, and seamless connection planning to bring it to market.

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CommsCouncil's IPA Residential courses Campaign Planning, Business & Agency Leadership and Strategic Planning are designed to enhance the skills of marketing communications professionals and help transition managers into leaders. Find out more about upcoming courses here.