Asking the cows about farming.

I was recently sat in an awards jury, as you do, when a ‘medical person’ insisted that in one category all you really had to do, to launch a new drug, was to announce its arrival.

Drug X does Y.

No selling or creativity was required.

It was a curious, if not uncommon occurrence, to hear that opinion and she was adamant. After all, she had been in the business for many years and she knew what she was talking about.

The medical business, mind you.

No amount of creative advocacy would budge her.

The thing is, yes, she clearly did know her area of medical expertise and to an extent the usual protocols for launching a drug in that category. But (with as much due respect as I can muster) what worth was her opinion from a marketing standpoint?

Do you know anyone who will admit to being persuaded by advertising? yet somehow it works.

So is it fair to assume that because you are an expert in your own field, you also are wise to the clever tricks we adfolk can pull? Or that you know how to market to yourself and your cohorts in the most effective way, better than mere advertising people?

We all use toothpaste regularly. (If my son is reading this, that will seem a bit of a stretch I grant you, but nevertheless…) does that make us experts in oral hygiene marketing?

The amount of times I have heard consumer clients talk about their products, (mostly car clients)  in terms of ‘just put it on the poster and it will sell itself’. I wish it were that simple.

Sometimes, within the B2B world, we don’t have the perspective required from our positions inside the tent to really see the bigger picture.

Look at it from the reverse angle.

The medical world, I am sure, rolls its collective eyes when patients rock up at surgeries with their own ailments pre-diagnosed. (If my daughter is reading this, how is the Denghi fever this week?)

Experience tells them that a runny nose might not be Malaria.

As they say, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

In a recent piece of research we had been carrying out for a new campaign the creative work was well received, as far as it went, but the doctors were not so keen on the strategy. Instead of them taking it at face value, we were told that other doctors would not believe it.

So what is the role of creative research when you get this reaction?

Do we listen to our experts in the field or do we rely on our knowledge that, actually, people sometimes react differently when they’re not being consulted for their opinion?

Do we trust in creativity?

Like a salesman pitching door to door do you just accept that if the customer initially says they aren’t looking for a new set of dusters you can’t sell them a new set of dusters?

We used to have a saying that research was like ‘asking the cows about farming’. The cows are right at the heart of the process, they live and breathe farming, they experience it everyday.

Just don’t ask them how to run the farm.

A good research company can sort the creative approval and understanding from the amateur strategic advice, but very often we take everything that spouts from a research participant’s gob as if it’s unquestionable pearls of wisdom.

And sometimes it just isn’t.

Sometimes they will tell us they like something because it sits within their comfort zone, not realizing that what is required is actually something outside of that dreaded zone.

Recently another doctor told us that even though he liked an idea we didn’t need the one visual thing that made it different. He didn’t know what it’s role was, so as far as he was concerned it was unnecessary.

Therefore our client felt that research told us we didn’t need it. But just because he didn’t know it’s role didn’t make it unnecessary. Without it, the ad was wallpaper.

The respondent was playing creative director and if anyone is going to be hideously wrong about stuff I insist it should be me.

Because if you need further proof that people, when consulted, often say one thing but do another and therefore can’t always be trusted, take a look at the recent election in the UK.

All the polls said the Tories and Labour were neck and neck and yet somehow we have a Tory Majority government.

Moooooo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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