Hack the Solution
Watching the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon in London this past weekend, I was reminded about all of the live collaborative creative sessions that I have been a part of over the last several years. (BTW Infected Flight - a way to visualize and track disease spreading won.) From Facebook Publishing Garages to creative “hacks” at Ogilvy to more technical hackathons like the TechCrunch event. There are two types of compressed collaboration in these examples. One challenges a team against other teams to develop a promising solution. TechCrunch Disrupt London had 80+ teams staying up all night to pitch their solution.
The other model combines a disparate group of people to think through a problem and offer solutions. In Facebook’s Publishing Garage episodes, the media company (that’s what they are), brought business problem owners (brands) together with creative and technologists to define a content strategy and then create content emblematic of that strategy.
All of these examples are pulling people together in a compressed collaboration to sketch up a solution.
How about we do the same thing to bum rush the brief.That's a service brands and agencies could embrace.
Hack the Brief
We have a terrific Marketing Brief where I work. A bunch of seasoned marketers took the best of the best and distilled it down into a document that lays a terrific foundation for any creative work. My favorite parts are the fields that tell us what we want people to actually “do.” Second favorite section is where we inventory insights or, more often, potential insights.
The brief is not magic. But what goes into it can set us up to do some awesome work with a network of creative and often unlikely partners.
Let’s bring people together to hack together a terrific brief. Rather than just leap to tactical ‘what-ifs,’ let’s get creative people of all types together to build the brief together. If possible, we would carve up time to then have disparate teams – brand and partners, tech and creative, business and communications – brainstorm ideas to fuel a future ‘hack’.
If I were creating a broad video strategy to drive goals around relevant awareness, engagement, sales enablement, actual sales and lead gen, for example (let’s say I had both a sales and direct channel to satisfy), I would invite:
- Business owners from within the brand (both business and marketing leaders)
- Digital agency strategists & creatives
- Google & YouTube creative and media strategists
- A complimentary multichannel video network partner (e.g. Fullscreen)
- Video innovator, e.g. Outrigger Media (their innovative OpenSlate and Vnetic make them strong players)
Read how they were applied to an UGG of Australia program here – “To build essentially its own YouTube "network," Palisades tapped Outrigger Media’s OpenSlate, a tool that assesses and scores 220,000 YouTube channels based on measures of influence, content quality and engagement.
The platform assigns a SlateScore that filters out suggestive content or profanity. Advertiser demand for OpenSlate drove the rollout of a tool allowing media planners to curate their own premium content networks from among approximately 70 million ad-supported YouTube videos. That tool, called Vnetic, rolled out in June.”
Homework & Structure
All good things come in thirds. And all good things require prep and structure. This ain’t your mother’s unconference.’ The first third of the day is building the brief together. The second third of the day is group brainstorming on solutions. The final third is spent on read outs and refinements.
Team participants come in with the following as a very good strawman:
Challenge Statement: In 1-2 paragraphs, we should be able to capture the spirit of what we are trying to do with enough notation to reflect guardrails or conditions we need to work within.
Objectives: These should be clear business objectives against revenue or value-related goals. This is the green fees of any good brief and confirms that we understand what drives our business and
Audience: This is the second most misused field mostly because we rarely get beyond some key demographics. The trick here is to adequately describe who our audiences are such that we know their major common life needs (e.g. paying for college, buying their second house), their most contemporary drivers and barriers when it comes to our products and services, and how they get their information.
Actions: What do we want people to do? What action do we want them to take as a result of our communications?
All team participants come in with ideas on the following to share and build with the team:
Insights & Disruptions: Okay, this is the most misused field. Insights are hard to uncover. They take a good creative mind and meaningful data. Finding 3-4 potential insights about our audiences and the role our products or services can play in their lives is key to the hack. This is what collaborative creative teams will chew on.
Channels: What channels have we already committed to and have infrastructure around? That’s not to say that we shouldn’t innovate on channels. The hack should go wherever it needs to.
Success: Define what success looks like from KPIs to qualitative evidence.
All of that happens in the first part of the day. Then the group breaks up into manageable 8-person, cross-disciplinary teams to brainstorm solutions (volume, volume, volume). Finally, these teams come together to share their ideas. Very little refinement has happened. We are saving that for the after party.
The After-work is the Real Work
At the end of the day, you have a terrific brief. Business owners have demonstrated buy-in. An eclectic group of strategic and creative thinkers have come together to strengthen the brief and start the process of thinking creatively. And finally, valuable partners are given a brief they can get creative on over the next few weeks to come up with some awesome ideas.
Getting teams to work together on the brief and the solution can unlock creativity from how we define the challenge, itself, to the actual ways we aim to meet that challenge.