I am inspired by the people I work with.
Not by a process.
I went for an interview with a marketing agency once in Calgary. It was for contract work and I thought that’s where I wanted my career to go after pimping out cable TV, internet and phone services for two years.
Contract work. Yeah, pick up work from a few places here and there, set my own hours and live the dream, baby.
The agency owner asked about my process.
I’d never been asked before about my process. I didn’t know how to answer.
Process? What the hell is a process?
I stammered out a “well, I’ll either brew a pot of coffee or pour a glass of wine, depending on the time of day, and just get to work.”
It wasn’t a lie. It was the best answer I could come up with at the time.
He still gave me a writing assignment.
One that he never paid me for.
But it isn’t like that $300 would go very far.
(Two sidebar points: 1. Yes, I even undervalue my writing; 2. I can hear my husband frowning at me being dismissive about $300, especially considering I was collecting pogey at the time.)
I don’t have a process.
Recently, I was talking to one of my SMEs (subject matter experts) about a piece of fiber-optic cable-management architecture. He was telling me about the difference between our cable-management pieces and flexible tubing. It’s a big deal in fiber-optic cable protection.
He even cut his hand on the tubing.
I tried to come up with a campaign idea about it. I’d be launching it on Oct. 31, so I thought about playing up something gory with Halloween.
Hey, why not send all our customers one of those (fake) bloody fingers from the joke store? Um … it’s B2B marketing, so that might be a touch radical.
I went for a run and thought about it. Usually around Mile 3 or 4, my brain starts to empty out of everything in it and somehow it finds space to create. I come up with (what I think are) some of my best ideas when I’m running or cycling.
My SME’s story morphed into ’50s style human-resources safety videos and, well, I’m pretty happy with the finished project. (I have the most amazing videographer that I work with. I shit you not.)
It has even spawned a year-long campaign that reflects on the 35-year history of my company.
I’m excited about its potential. The people I work with have bought into the idea.
And there was no process behind it.
No method by which I can plan another campaign or video.
I was inspired by a story and I’m using it to tell a bigger story.
Maybe that makes me a bad marketer.
Or a helluva storyteller.
Which is really what good marketing is all about. Good storytelling.