Friday, April 23, 2010

The Future Looks Bright

Now I know why Tallahassee is Florida’s capitol…and it is not because it’s difficult to spell. Our visit to Florida State University this week was complimented by roads covered with canopies of live oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, blue skies, and a light breeze. The legislature is in session and people are friendly. Our friends at Catch Your Limit have an office located there and they provide strategic marketing consulting and fish cleaning services. If you don’t believe those two skills go together check out

They also group teach the Creative Strategy class in the School of Communications at FSU. When they asked me if I had a client that would be good for their class project…I said in fact…I do….Vanity stores would love some new ideas. They are a cool retail apparel chain that has hundreds of stores located mainly in the mid-west and a relatively new online presence at

Vanity sent us to Tallahassee to scoop up the results of the final project that they have been working on for weeks. Here’s how it worked: the class divided up into 5 ad agencies and competed for the clients business. Then we viewed the presentations and picked the winner- which let me just tell you now was a much more difficult task than I anticipated. They exceeded my expectations, which those of you who know me, know start at “high expectations.” Wow. I learned a lot. Starting with, how do you stay current in the marketing world? Teach a class and get some fresh ideas from your students.

What surprised me is that I got inspired by the students and about the future of the business. There is a new crop of energetic young people that have some innovative and big new ideas. The students are “digital natives” meaning that their world has always included technology and the internet and they don’t know a world without it. And, the way that they approach marketing reflects that reality. Now, there is no way that I can cover all the ideas in the blog today but I am delighted to say I have some exciting topics for upcoming blogs!

The winner was an “agency” called CR8 and they were victorious in a very close competition. I am so excited to deliver the results to Vanity. This was the ultimate focus group folks and it’s all on our Flip video cameras…soon to be condensed to a “Mindspot on the Spot” video report. One of the students sent me an email and asked me “When I get into the "real world" what should be more important to me: Taking the time to come up with great BIG ideas, or presenting a mediocre idea, knowing that people tend to go for the glitz and glam?”

This is a great question and here is my answer: Hard work counts, and the big idea is going to give you the hook; however, you have to keep your audience interested, and convince them you can get the job done. The competition is fierce and standing out from the other agencies is going to be an on-going challenge. The good news is that competition will make you better– so we say bring it on! At the end of the day…it all goes back to the research that can help you know and understand your customer. Your message must be relevant to your customer and it has to be communicated to the decision makers in a clear, engaging, and confident manner. Otherwise how will you reach their consumers?

There are other factors, in the “real world” everyone has budget restraints within which you must work and everyone has an opinion and you rarely know all the variables that factor into the final decision. And, you’ll notice there are a lot of “ands”.

The appropriate answer isn’t either/or, it’s Both And. You need Big Ideas AND excellent presentation.

We would like to thank the class at FSU for the privilege of being their client this semester. And, in closing…. “The real world” is closer than you might think.

The author of the Mindless Babble Blog is the President of Mindspot Research and Business Solutions.