Why is it that sometimes we seem to work on auto-pilot? If you have a question – I have an answer! In fact, often we are really efficient, answering many questions with the same answer… Follow me here… We need good people. Sometimes we interview and reject them because they don’t know our answers. By the way, it’s too often answers about the details of direct mail production they don’t know.

We read about new channels and talk about agnostic planning. We play with our iPods and other cool gadgets and gizmos and then we give our clients predictable and safe program ideas.

We say we believe in insights and preach the need for consumer/user understanding. We are passionate about how we make the consumer the hero. Yet how often do we really use the tools we have to dive deeply into the psyche of our targets and deliver richly layered thinking to drive our ideas and programs? How often do we just go with what we have or what we think?

Data is the bedrock of our business; the price of entry; the basics. How many of our engagements really, really take advantage of true data sources and provide us and our clients with informed thinking and planning? How often do we just let it go because “they” won’t let us at it?

Needless to say, the creative product – as in “the stuff” – is the tipping point for all we do. It is the element that can make or break us more than any other. It’s “the fun”, and yet too often it becomes our Achilles heel; the element that sours client relationships; the big disappointer. And, how often do we blame the client for the bad work?

Bottom-line – I know I’m being harsh and that some of you are shaking your heads thinking not me, not our work. No doubt that is true for some, yet too often – way too often – we have the answers before we even know the questions, and the results are some of what I have wailed on above.

One of the great hosts of late night TV in the USA put it all in perspective for me:

“I went into a McDonald’s yesterday and said, ‘I’d like some fries.’ The girl at the counter said, ‘Would you like some fries with that?’”
– Jay Leno

Next time you get asked for fries – offer the burger and a shake too…

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