Africa Style: Why marketers can’t just delegate the Big Idea
by Masingita Mazibuko Spring is now fully ‘sprung’, at least in those parts of South Africa outside of the Western Cape. And, as we all know, its arrival heralds the flourish and bustle and gaiety of weddings. I’ve already been to two, and at both was reminded that it’s as easy to confuse the romance of the wedding day with the realities of marriage as it is to think that, once you’ve hit upon a communication idea that excites you, the job is done.
Yes, just as the tough teamwork that went into making the wedding day a success should continue unabated throughout the marriage, so too do marketers need to remain cogniscant of the fact that a great idea means nothing without excellent execution.
We often spend copious amounts of time in generating strong ideas and rush the second half (that is, operationalising the idea) as though it is not equally important. Execution is a critical part to ensuring a great idea remains just that.
As we begin our planning cycle for 2014, it’s worth remembering that many global iconic brands not only have a strong brand idea, they also apply significant discipline and processes to ensure that the idea is evidenced at every single touch point. Disney springs to mind, as does fast-food giant McDonalds1 with more than 33 500 restaurants in 119 countries, and whose growth has been fueled by a mix of astuteness and due consideration to local palettes and service variations.
Shouldn’t be delegated
In my experience, the fundamental consideration is that getting things done requires discipline and specific processes that should not be delegated.
Great ideas come to fruition as result of joint work between client and agency. It’s not as simple as putting in a brief and the reclining at your desk waiting for the Big Idea to be developed outside of your office. Rather, it’s about partnering to crystallise the ideas and thereafter challenging each other to ensure that Big One is delivered effectively.
Execution is deliberate and entails teamwork between the agency and the client; strategy is vital but so too is diligence in the operationalising2.
It is easy to marvel at Apple’s success and accord it to a brilliant product. However, dig a bit deeper and you’ll soon see that Steve Jobs was relentlessly obsessive when it came to translating the vision and getting his hands dirty during product development, as well as how the end result was launched, marketed and retailed.
Marketers can boost their own chances of success by relentlessly questioning and interrogating implementation details. In that way, they can ensure that an idea is more than just an idea, and becomes greater than envisioned.
Do note: I’m not advocating micro-management but staying continuously connected throughout.
In the computer world, it is often said that ‘weeks of coding can save you days on planning’. And, just like the courting that it takes to win your life partner, you need to consider the effort you put in to ensure a truly winning idea to makes its mark.
Masingita Mazibuko, marketing director at Unilever, contributes the monthly “Africa Style” column to MarkLives.com. The views expressed within this column are entirely her own.
- Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done. Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan with Charles Burck