Each month we’ll invite different strategists to respond to an open-ended prompt. This month it seemed fitting to kick-off the series with ‘How to Start.’
A young runner once asked Nike co-founder and University of Oregon coach Bill Bowerman, “How do I improve my times?” His answer: “Run faster.”
Don’t make things complicated. Get out. Go. Talk to strangers. Make new friends. Tap into old ones. No passion, no brilliance. Be curious, interested and ask good questions. Hi! is a nice place to start. Listen.
There are so many stories in this world. Let every person you meet know and feel that you are here and now to know theirs and see where they take you. Most will respond by sharing what really matters to them, helping YOU “run faster” with insight.
Lauren is a freelance creative director and strategist, specialising in copywriting and consumer insight. She is based in Portland, Oregon and works with clients globally. Find Lauren on Twitter @lmnopdx
How To Start…and Never Stop
By Eddie Revis
Students and peers often ask me this question about how I started in strategy. I like to think that while I had to start at some point in my life – we all had to – I see the more important and valuable lessons coming from that I never stopped doing certain things once I started.
Start being insanely curious and never stop. You’ll feel crazy at times and that the world is collapsing in on you, but just go with it. You’ll find more interesting solutions to problems being crazy and passionate than you will trying to fit in.
Start breaking the rules and never stop. A portfolio of great work does not come from someone who followed the speed limit, stayed on their diet or only answered the questions they were asked. Cheat, sneak, and bend sideways. You’ll make yourself stronger so that when you do, you can break even the oldest rules.
Start listening (and really listen) to others and never stop. You may find yourself thinking that it is impossible that this person or that person has the solution to the problem you are solving for. If you start listening you’ll find yourself with thoughts and clues and strategies that your own brain could never produce.
You’ve got the client brief.
You’ve tried the product, been to the store, browsed the category online, read the research, talked to people in the category.
The most important skill is learning to ask yourself the right questions, before you know if the answers are any good.
The most important questions: What are we trying to achieve? What can I add that is genuinely helpful?
Strategy is about choices….what, when, how, why, etc.
So what are the choices on this brief?
What is a ‘given’?
Is it really?
Write down stuff, randomly, on a big piece of paper.
Audience insights. Product benefits and features. Motivations. Points of difference.
Problems. Community bonds. Category conventions. Competitor imagery and taglines.
Conversation themes from blogs.
Most of all, think about Unmet Needs.
Look at the scribbles.
Use a thesaurus, Google Images, Wikipedia.
Add a few more.
Go get some fresh air, grab a sandwich.
Come back, add to the scribbles.
Look for connections between the scribbles.
Links, paradoxes, surprises.
Have some starter thoughts.
Look for the fit.
Is it a new thought, is it different?
Simple to understand? (For the team, not the consumer. It’s a brief, not a tagline.)
That’s how I start.