Snatching Mediocrity from the Jaws of Innovation

I was reading an interesting bit in MediaPost today – entitled “Best Practices are Not a Crutch” and was struck by the truth of David Baker’s closing line:

While many folks make a living off copying other programs and tactics and re-applying them in a different context, the best marketing programs don’t rely on best practices alone. They rely on a mix of discipline, business rules, creativity, and timely intervention to reinvigorate the programs and teams.

I remember a friend who was a jazz musician telling me once that you had to learn the rules in order that you might break them properly.  While best practices are good to know, I think we’re better served by our instincts; that Seth Godin was right when he stated “Compromise in marketing is almost always a bad idea.”

I’m working on a new product launch, and fighting our internal “best practices” for the launch.  The initial inclination from some of the team was “let’s get a press release out there…unlimber the email cannon…” To my mind, we’ve got an opportunity to make a real, substantive splash rather than (to paraphrase the Duke of Wellington) “coming at them the same old way.”

So how do we change things?  First off, everyone is going to need to understand that we’re not going to fire first and aim later, again.  This time we will have strategy behind our tactics.  A couple of points:

    1. Plan the time of the product launch
    2. Build the buzz leading up to it, or barring that, stay in stealth mode
    3. Orchestrate the events of the launch to maximize the wow effect – we will have stolen the march on our competition and offer a product that is better than any of them have by several orders of maginitude.
    4. Do our internal marketing first – let our troops in the field build the buzz, allude to big doings and generally be our first line of marketing.

With proper planning, big things happen.  Yet one misstep and we’ll once again snatch mediocrity from the jaws of innovation. 

(One of the problems of blogging real time is that you’re often forced to speak in vagueries.  There will be more on this in the coming months, as the plan unfolds.  Think of it as a living case study – and you’ll also note that only a handful actually know the customer with whom I’m working.)

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